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DON’T BURDEN SMOKERS WITH TAXES

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Smokers have long paid their way in society, but it is time they stood up and said a resounding "no" to paying for programs that benefit the nation as a whole. Yes, that would be the effect of substantially increasing the federal excise tax on cigarettes as a way of paying for a new health-care package.

The intent of revising the health-care program is to provide universal access to care and to control costs. But if this is done through a tax policy that hurts those who can least afford it or cripples a significant industry, then its efforts will be counterproductive.Workers can contribute to health-care plans. The unemployed can't, transferring the burden for their health back on the government and on those who can pay. The negative effects of increasing the burden on low-income workers or of throwing tobacco industry employees (and the communities they support with their paychecks) out of work will be to increase the demands on national programs.

On the other hand, ask these people simply to share the responsibility to generate funds with the population as whole, and you maintain incomes and jobs and grow the base of taxpayers rather than deplete it.

To support national objectives, this country must rely on progressive tax policy that takes into consideration the ability and responsibility of all people to pay, while at the same time tending to the health of all our industries.

Bob Larsen

Sandy