Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Representative Cody introduces tobacco legislation

According to the Washington Department of Health:
Forty-five children in Washington start using tobacco every day and one-third of them will eventually die from it.
Those numbers are almost as staggering as 2.6 billion, the number of dollars needed to fill our state budget gap.

Representative Eileen Cody (D – West Seattle), chair of the House Health Care and Wellness committee has a plan to address both problems during the upcoming legislative session. Today, Cody prefiled a bill, House Bill 2493, which would increase Washington’s cigarette tax by one dollar and bring the tax on other tobacco products up to comparable levels. The current state tax on a package of cigarettes is $2.025.

Most of the estimated $88 million raised by the tax would go into the state's general fund. The remaining $19 million would go to a Washington program that prevents kids from starting to use tobacco and helps adults quit. This program, the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program has been extremely effective since its inception in 1990. Unfortunately, its 2009-2011 budget has been halved, one more victim of the state's revenue problem.

Considering that tobacco use causes more deaths nationwide annually than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides, and fires combined, money spent to prevent kids from starting this deadly habit will save thousands of lives. In 2004, smoking-caused health costs in Washington totaled almost $2 billion. So, not only does reducing smoking saves lives, it saves money too.

When the price of cigarettes goes up, fewer kids can afford to buy them. Tobacco company documents released during the tobacco lawsuits show that cigarette producer Phillip Morris was well aware of this fact:
Phillip Morris: Jeffrey Harris of MIT calculated…that the 1982-83 round of price increases caused two million adults to quit smoking and prevented 600,000 teenagers from starting to smoke…We don’t need to have that happen again.
Representative Cody’s bill deserves serious consideration as a deterrent to creating another generation of smokers, and as a method of raising revenue to support our state's vital services. Every little bit helps.


Blogger Richard W. said...

How silly.

It's too easy to advocate a position when you use children as an excuse.

The truth of the matter is that increasing taxes on tobacco products only encourages smokers to shop across the border or at reservations to avoid paying the taxes. It increases theft and smuggling, and only serves to harm small businesses who are already hurting because of the economy.

If a kid wants to start smoking, another buck isn't going to stop him or her.

Not to mention that Rep. Cody doesn't care about revenue. She stated during the hearing that she only cared about forcing people to stop smoking. Well, I thought we lived in a county where it's citizens had the right to do something even if it might be bad for them. We don't need busy-body government rats pushing their moral opinion on the citizens of Washington State.

No on 2493.

January 19, 2010 2:56 PM  

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