Taxing smokers

Re "Lighting up a revenue idea," Column, Aug. 13

I don't get it. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is willing to accept increases in fees for the state's colleges and universities, but he will not embrace a tax increase for cigarettes. What does this say about his character, values and priorities when he is willing to raise cash in ways that will discourage learning but not smoking?

How many Californians must suffer so that the governor can continue to boast that he did not increase taxes? Most prior governors, including Earl Warren, Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson, as well as the governors of most other states, put the interest of their state first and supported tax increases when, as now, an increase in revenues became essential.

James N. Adler

Los Angeles


George Skelton parades out the worn-out arguments for taxing a particular group for the benefit of all. His main argument is that smokers require more healthcare dollars, yet he conveniently forgets that they die earlier and are less of a drain on Social Security and Medicare.

Using the same line of thinking, we should tax the overweight, those with higher cholesterol levels, drinkers, junk-food eaters and people who do not exercise regularly.

Even though smokers are considered the modern-day lepers of society, they should not be made to unfairly bear the burden of our economic woes, most of which do not specifically relate to them.

Lawrence Kosberg

Los Angeles


I'm not a smoker. Never have been. My mom smoked for 40 years, and it cut her life short. My greatest fear is that my own daughter would take up the habit.

That said, I agree with Skelton that lawmakers are milking the poor and powerless by constantly turning to cigarette taxes as a way to boost state revenues. At some point, the idea of a "sin" tax on cigarettes becomes little more than just beating up on people whose chief crime is they got addicted to a product sold legally.

It is cowardly for lawmakers to keep pulling money from cigarette smokers when they won't add a nickel to the cost of a drink or pursue taxes on marijuana, which, say state number-crunchers, would yield $1.4 billion in revenue.

Bill Orton

Long Beach

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