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

Haleys Comments: Taxing alcohol would be reasonable and fair

In the state of Wisconsin we have seen the price of cigarettes go up and up continuously over the past few years. A pack of cigarettes that cost $4.50 three year ago has now reached prices above $7.

We all know that cigarettes are being taxed because they are bad for your health, and that the extra cost is to serve as yet another incentive to quit smoking.

Well, isn’t drinking alcohol bad for your health? No, let me rephrase here. Drinking in moderation isn’t unhealthy. But drinking as excessively as Wisconsinites usually do is unhealthy. So shouldn’t drinking alcohol, an action that is arguably as dangerous as smoking cigarettes, have higher taxes too?

Yes, the raised cigarette tax hurts the wallets of smokers throughout the state, but it also brings in quite a bit of money on both the state and federal level.

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The federal tax on cigarettes goes to benefit the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which helps provide health care coverage to children whose families are ineligible for Medicaid.

But a majority of cigarette tax is placed on cigarettes by the state. This money goes toward the state budget, helping to fund projects throughout the state.

According to a report released by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, nearly $500 million was raised in cigarette taxes between 2008 and 2009. Alcohol taxes during the same time-span came in at less than $50 million.

When it comes down to it, the cost of cigarettes is becoming too much for many smokers. With cigarette taxes rising, the state of Wisconsin has reportedly seen more people quitting and fewer young adults picking up the habit.

So perhaps raising the tax on alcohol would have a similar effect: fewer kids drinking, and fewer adult alcoholics.

I myself wonder why there is such a difference between the tax on alcohol and the tax on cigarettes. Drinking can be just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes.

While not everybody who drinks alcohol has a serious drinking problem, alcohol addiction does become a problem for a lot of people. When it comes to addiction, or just plain drinking out of boredom, too much alcohol consumption can cause heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among Americans.

Another reality is that people go out to the bars, get wasted, and then drive themselves home. There were more than 44,000 drunk driving convictions and offenses in Wisconsin last year.

Isn’t driving drunk at least as dangerous as smoking cigarettes? Can’t heart disease kill you just as quickly as lung cancer? If one vice should face tax increases, so should the other.

With the tax and a statewide smoking ban, cigarette smoking seems to be one of the biggest taboos in America. These days, someone who smokes seems to face bigger consequences than someone who drinks and drives.

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Haleys Comments: Taxing alcohol would be reasonable and fair