Letter to the Editor

Make smokers pay

Regarding the Dec. 17 editorial “Demonizing welfare recipients”:

Since “large majorities of the public” “don’t want to subsidize somebody’s drug addiction,” the answer is not to drug-test welfare recipients but to make smokers pay more of the $300 billion in costs they impose each year largely on nonsmokers in the form of higher taxes (for Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) and inflated health insurance premiums — a number that dwarfs the costs imposed by illicit drugs and the amount smokers pay in excise taxes.

There are no testing or other expenses required to shift those costs. One need simply increase the federal cigarette tax to a rate comparable with those in other Western countries. Those for whom smoking is just a habit obviously should bear personal responsibility for its costs, and those who are addicted can avoid the higher taxes by getting their fix from nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, etc.

John F. Banzhaf III, Washington

The writer is a former executive director of Action on Smoking and Health.

 
Read what others are saying