Tax Cigarettes to Insure Children

Okay – what am I missing here? In a bipartisan agreement, the Senate Finance Committee wants to raise the federal cigarette tax from 61 cents to 1 dollar (& proportional increases in other tobacco products) to pay for a $35 billion expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program over the next 5 years. Not only will more kids be covered by health insurance (CHIP is fundamentally a good program), fewer kids will be likely to start or continue smoking (number one preventable cause of death in the US) – so the proposal will save money in the long-term (smoking causes an annual $167 billion economic hit in medical costs & lost productivity). And yet a veto threat has been raised. I think I would actually be less upset if they just admitted to the millions of tobacco lobbying dollars as justification rather than try to contrive something “scientific”.

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