Cigarette Tax Cut

The recent compromise on the state budget includes a 10-cent reduction in the tax on online cigarettes - a condition that was an absolute requirement of the Republican leadership.

This means a loss revenue at a time when state jobs are being eliminated and vital human service programs are being cut. The House leaders assure us - not to worry - the reduction in taxes will result in increased sales, and that will more than make up the difference.

This raises the question: Who in his or her right mind would want to make it easier and cheaper to buy cigarettes?

The dangers of smoking cigarettes are too well known to be repeated. It may be - neck and neck with obesity - the most pressing health risk we face today. Governments should be doing everything possible to discourage the use of cigarettes, not encouraging and promoting use by reducing the cost.

Consider the cost to the state as an employer, and businesses everywhere, of lost days and productivity because of employees suffering from lung cancer, asthma and other diseases all related to smoking cigarettes. At the same time the state is wrestling with increased health costs and burgeoning insurance rates, and the budget is reducing Medicaid to support New Hampshire hospitals.

Experience elsewhere has shown that increasing the tax on cigarettes products will result in a substantial drop in usage, particularly among young people, and might discourage others from even starting.

That should be our goal. If the role of our elected officials is to do the most good for the most people, then cutting the cigarette tax is short-sighted at best or just plain stupid.