The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Smoke tax hike a positive

Since the 1950s, studies have shown the link between lung cancer and cigarette smoking. Organizations such as the American Cancer Society and Wisconsin Cancer Council have rigorously published anti-smoking data in an effort to discourage the habit among youths and adults.

These efforts have included mandatory warning labels on cigarette packs, physicians’ advice to quit, anti-smoking advertising, smoking cessation programs, increased restriction on places to smoke and most recently, another increased cigarette tax in Wisconsin.

Plus there is that funky rap beat you hear on the radio preaching for “Wisconsin to be free from tobacco, smoke, no we can’t be havin’ that.” Yeah, admit it, I’ve seen you bobbin’ your head in your jeep when that song comes on the radio.

This all may mark the decline in the popularity of Joe Camel and the legendary Marlboro Man, who, by the way, died of cancer.

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The Wisconsin tax on cigarettes went from 16 cents to 25 cents per pack in 1981-1982, leading to the largest decrease in cigarette sales in Wisconsin from 1982-1984.

As of Oct. 1, smokers have been given the best reason yet to kick their habit of puffing as the cigarette tax in Wisconsin jumped from 59 to 77 cents per pack.

Despite what big tobacco lobbyists may infer, cigarettes are addictive, unhealthy and do cause cancer. I’m speaking for the majority when I assume that most smokers would rather stay healthy and free of cancer.

The tax increase will have the greatest impact on our nation’s youth as cigarette smoke will only lead to a youthful experiment, rather than yielding a regular, addicting purchase.

For adults to quit, they must actually want to. It’s a mentality they must have because adults who habitually smoke can afford an additional 18 cents to continue puffing on their favorite brand.

And telling yourself that you’ll quit as of New Year’s Day every year isn’t going to cut it.

The new tax increase has caused the price of a pack of brand-name cigarettes to be close to $4. For the pack-a-day smoker, that’s $28 dollars a week that they’ll be forced to spend on their beloved smokey-treats. That’s close to a $1,500 hit to the pocketbook each year. Double that number if you’re a two-pack-a-day smoker. And I know you’re out there.

The tax increase will generate millions of additional dollars, which will help pay for a prescription drug plan, which will cover close to 260,000 senior citizens in the Dairyland.

Nationally, Wisconsin has the 13th highest cigarette tax, compared to top-taxer New York with $1.11 per pack and bottom-ranked Kentucky at three cents per pack.

So congratulations to our elected leaders for helping Wisconsin seniors to afford their medicine and for protecting more young people form developing tobacco-related diseases.

With time, statistics will show that the new tax will have pushed more smokers in the direction of quitting – or at least in the Southern direction, as some smokers may head for Kentucky.

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Smoke tax hike a positive