Prop. 303 Food For Thought

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Editor:

Prop. 303 proposes doubling the state tax on tobacco products. The proceeds would apparently fund various medical programs.

On its face, this sounds like a wonderful idea. However, I do have some questions:

1. Almost everyone agrees that tobacco is an addiction, especially when one has indulged for more than 40 years. What effects will our smoking seniors face when they must try to quit after so many years? Stress, anxiety, and/or overeating, resulting in medical problems?

2. If, optimistically, half the smokers kick the habit, what happens to the programs that Prop. 303 is to support? If there is considerably less tax revenue, how are these programs to be funded?

3. If existing revenues from tobacco taxes become unavailable, what's the next source for funding? A big tax on french fries (and on restaurants that serve unhealthy foods)? Another tax increase on alcohol? A proposition raising taxes on only people who have children in schools? Or on only minorities? Well, of course not, on that last one. That would be discrimination, against people who have merely been born to a minority family. Most smokers have merely been born into a family that smoked.

4. Could Prop. 303 open the door to a black market, or bootlegging of tobacco products?

Imposing a tax on smokers only is grossly unfair it is blatant discrimination. Smokers are not second-class citizens. We are law-abiding taxpayers, lawyers, doctors, waitresses, government employees, salespersons, retirees ... the list goes on. We pay taxes, buy health insurance, support businesses, and in general are individuals who are just as valuable to the community as our non-smoking neighbors.

As an afterthought: We once knew a fine man, born on a farm before 1920, who smoked from age 7. At 40, he quit, and became an avid opponent of tobacco. He also was extremely anti-gun. But when it was proposed that AK-47s be outlawed, he rebelled. When asked why, he explained that once one of our freedoms was successfully attacked, the inference would be drawn that any and all of our freedoms could be attacked. He found that unconscionable.

If you vote to tax smokers, you take the risk that someday someone will come up with a way to tax one of the freedoms you enjoy.

Smoking is legal. So is owning a weapon. So is eating french fries. Vote NO on 303.

Jim and Mikey Kerns, Payson

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