Money won't eradicate smoking or make Alaska students smart

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2004

When politicians use children to make new taxes more palatable, would it be politically correct to call that child abuse?

A few weeks ago Rep. Peggy Wilson was asking for a $100 head tax which would go to "a good cause," namely the education of our precious children. I'm sure she means well, but there is no guarantee money raised through the bill would go to the schools.

With cigarette taxes it was (and will again be) the same scenario. The taxes cannot be appropriated and must go into the general fund. The other day Gov. Murkowski was so pleased to inform us that smoking amongst teenagers has significantly declined since the tax increase.

As with education, more money doesn't necessarily mean better results. Many or most of us have attended overcrowded and underfinanced schools, but were taught to read -- even between the lines! What has brought about the decline in teenage smoking can largely be attributed to strict "carding" which makes cigarettes less readily available to the kids. Some stores even card Methuselah's contemporaries just to be on the safe side. With the exception of a few sting operations, this measure hasn't cost the government a dime.

The projected $35 million on cigarette taxes will again disappear in the general fund to be used for whatever those in charge see fit. But we all will feel good for helping our children. "Money will eradicate smoking." "Money will make our children smart." How absurd!

An afterthought to (legal) smoking. Not long ago a scientist was quoted in the Clarion as saying, the percentage of adult smokers will not go down substantially until most of them "have died off." A very kind way of putting it. But will they eventually die of smoke related illnesses or malnutrition? Many of our elderly living on a fixed income will neglect proper nutrition in order to afford cigarettes. Sad, but true.

I find the government's indifference repulsive, but they don't see it that way, especially since they need that almighty dollar.

Judy Humphrey


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