Posted by: audreybenenati | February 9, 2010

Lawmakers falling short on tobacco tax increase

Smoking tobacco kills people. Smoking kills smokers. Smokers can kill people who live with them.

These are simple and uncomplicated facts. Of course, principles of taxation can be complex and complicated. Elected officials who use the complexities of taxation to realize their own political objectives are wrong. South Carolinians continue to die from smoking tobacco, and elected officials who do not advocate a tobacco tax are not protecting the health, welfare and safety of the people of South Carolina.

In terms of equity, tobacco tax should be an additional burden for smokers. The cost to state taxpayers related to illnesses created by smoking is significant. Earmarking the revenue is simple, unless a few elected officials with personal objectives complicate the process.

There are bright and intelligent individuals serving as South Carolina legislatures who can enact a tobacco tax to not only fund effective smoking prevention and cessation programs, but also deal with another extraordinary state dilemma: education. Rather than cutting days from the school year to save money, our state can provide additional funding to improve the quality of education.

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