Start Smoking, Help a Child

Want to help children have access to health care?

Start smoking.

If you already smoke, pick up the pace.

Congress needs your help to fund the SCHIP program that provides government run health insurance for poor families who earn up to $44,000 per year.

While a tobacco tax is a politically popular funding source, it has several significant shortcomings:

A tobacco tax disproportionately burdens low-income Americans, lacks long-term stability, and ultimately results in significant shifting of health care costs onto others.

With the number of smokers already declining, a tobacco tax would further reduce the number of smokers, thereby eroding the funding source.

To produce the revenues that Congress needs to fund SCHIP expansion through such a tax would require 22.4 million new smokers by 2017.

The tax will be paid mostly by the folks it is intended to helpĀ  . . . “low income” and teens.

This brainchild comes from the same folks who find it prudent to stimulate the economy by going in to debt and funding programs for tattoo removal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each adult smoker costs approximately $3,702 annually in medical costs and lost productivity. If Congress is serious, the tens of millions of new smokers would be needed to sustain SCHIP funding. But assuming that a new cohort of smokers would somehow materialize, the privately insured, as well as the taxpayers, would also carry a correspondingly heavier burden, as most of the additional costs would be shifted to them through higher insurance premiums.

Government is taking over banks, insurance companies and auto makers. Now they want more people to smoke so they can fund health care.

Somehow I miss the logic here.

This isn’t rocket surgery.

BTW, the tobacco tax increases by $0.61 per pack on April 1. If you want to protest, stock up on cigarettes today.

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