SPRINGFIELD - Sorry you smokers, you just don't get it. Adding yet another $1 per pack of cigs will be good for you. Yes, that's it, it will be good for you that a carton of Marlboros will cost nearly $100 in Chicago with this tax hike, Governor Quinn says.
The thinking goes like this: Raising the price of cigarettes gives smokers incentive to quit and deters young people from starting. Since there’ll be fewer smokers, the costs of treating smoking-related diseases should also go down.
But the plan to essentially double the cigarette tax has raised questions about whether such a hike could indeed curb smoking, if it’s a sensible funding source as the number of smokers dwindles, and if it would simply drive smokers to buy cigarettes elsewhere.
“It makes sense from a public health perspective,” said Heather Eagleton a spokeswoman for the Illinois division of the American Cancer Society. “We are aware that it is difficult to quit ... and this may be the final push they need to quit.”
This time, we're told, cigarette smokers will pay more to help the state of Illinois catch up on the $8 billion in Medicaid bills its fallen behind on. At one time smokers funded children's health care - that appealed to the guilt factor most smokers feel. They, as bad people smokers, could make up for their nasty nicotine addiction by contributing to kids' health care.
Okay, that may have worked well enough for one cig tax hike. -But now the Democrats want smokers to pay bills the state obligated us all to pay and didn't pay? That like punishing us for something our brothers or sister or parents did. How fair is that?
Here's a secret - smokers are crossing the borders to Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Iowa and Michigan to get around Illinois' ludicrous taxes. While they're there, they buy gas, eat out, do some shopping and look around for homes and potential jobs.
And it's the lower income folks that gas prices and cigarette taxes hurt the most. A 2008 Gallup survey showed:
So, if you think Illinois smokers should be taxed out of their nasty habit and pay the price for what they're ultimately costing taxpayers - especially those poor folks that depend on the government for assistance - then maybe you should 'fess up.
You're really a Democrat.