The governor of Oregon has proposed an $0.85/pack tax increase on cigarettes with the expected $150 to $170 million in revenue being used to subsidize health care for children in Oregon. I think this is a great idea, and one that could be implemented in every state to help with the health care crisis in the US. Tobacco has no redeeming qualities as far as health care is concerned. It causes or exacerbates a number of health problems in both smokers and people exposed to second-hand smoke. An $0.85/pack price increase could be the extra incentive that some smokers need to ditch the habit – thereby reducing their own health care costs considerably in the short-term, and probably extending their lifespan in the long run (this in turn could lead to higher health care costs associated with living longer – but most of us would take the extra years added to our lives, even if they come with some health complications in later years).
Any program that improves America’s access to health care – especially for children – without cutting funding for other social programs, is a step in the right direction. And one that taxes a health-destroying habit in the process is even better.