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‘Socking It to Smokers’

Your editorial (Jan. 9), “Socking It to Smokers,” brought up several key facts that should not be overlooked.

The current federal cigarette tax of 16 cents a pack is due to drop to 8 cents as of Oct. 1. This cut in federal revenue is a great step backward, encouraging the sales of the No. 1 public health enemy-- cigarette smoking.

Allowing the decrease in the price of cigarettes increases a likelihood of young teen-agers taking up the habit. (The majority of smokers today began smoking by the age of 18!)

The American Lung Assn. supports DOUBLING the tax to 32 cents. Again, the price of cigarettes would increase and the federal deficit would decrease without the general population being taxed. This may seem to be a “user” fee, but it is an individual free choice whether or not to smoke.

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If the federal government cannot open its eyes to the backward step it would take by decreasing this tax, the individual states should readily jump on the issue with a state-imposed tax. These funds could be recaptured by our Legislature in California to support many worthwhile programs. Imagine being able to bring home millions of federal dollars to California while not increasing taxes and simultaneously striking a blow for public health.

Either way, the general public will benefit.

PEARL JEMISON-SMITH RN

Santa Ana

Jemison-Smith is president of the American Lung Assn. of Orange County.


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