Raise The Tax On Alcohol, Not Cigarettes!

If Senators Kennedy and Hatch want to fund health insurance for children, as well as save young lives, they should raise taxes on alcohol rather than cigarettes.

Cigarettes don't kill kids; alcohol does. Among young people under 25, 160 DIE FROM ALCOHOL RELATED CAUSES FOR EVERY ONE WHO DIES FROM CIGARETTES. In 1992, 27,000 kids died of motor accidents, suicide, and homicide, at least half of which are thought to be associated with alcohol abuse. Only 86 kids died of cancers that could be smoking-associated (lung, throat, lip,etc).

We are told by the ASPs (Anti-Smoking Propagandists) that one out of every 3 kids who starts to smoke will die of his addiction. This number is vastly inflated, but in any case, they don't tell us that this "kid", if he gets lung cancer, will die at the age of 68! (In 1992, lung cancer victims died at the average age of 68, compared to 70 for all decedents).

This kind of deceptive advertising, trying to make us visualize small corpses with nicotine-stained fingers, is unfortunately typical of the ASP effort. Our kids have decades in which to quit smoking, but can die tonight from drunken driving. Tobacco does not lead to violence, sexual promiscuity, child neglect and abuse. Alcohol and drugs do! Before 1988 only intoxicants were considered addictive, but since then the ASPs have wiped out the distinction. Ask yourself, would you feel safer if your pilot had had 3 cigarettes or 3 martinis before taking off?

Not only do cigarettes not harm children, but taxing smokers further is unfair, since smokers are not a net burden to society. This economic question was answered definitively in 1994 when Dr. Jane Gravelle of the Library of Congress, reviewing many economic studies, showed that cigarette taxes more than pay for the health expenses of smokers, but noted that alcohol taxes do not pay the health and social costs of drinking. I see no reason why I, a senior citizen, should pay $160 dollars a year in unfair taxes.

Smoking is risky behavior, but so is excessive drinking, fast driving, sexual promiscuity, or certainly illegal drug use. Of all of these smoking poses the least immediate danger for young people.

Rosalind B. Marimont

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