A coalition of health groups has submitted a proposed initiative for the November 2006 ballot that would nearly double the price for a pack of cigarettes in California by raising the per-pack tax by $2.60. The proceeds of this new sin tax would fund health-related services that will no doubt benefit everyone in the state, such as health insurance for needy children, improving the state’s overcrowded hospital emergency rooms and research for breast and prostrate cancer, among others. In unveiling the proposal, Jim Knox, legislative advocacy vice president of the American Cancer Society, called it the “best way to help tackle key elements of our growing health care crisis.” The best way? AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake That’s where we differ with the many illustrious health care associations aligned to support the ballot initiative. The crises in the state’s health care is real. However, placing the burden unfairly on the backs of one already kicked-about class of society can’t possibly be the “best way” to solve anything. What’s most troubling about the proposal is not that it seeks to punish rather than help smokers, but that it seeks to profit from their nicotine addiction. Only a fraction of the estimated $2.3 billion raised each year will go to smoking cessation or tobacco control and enforcement efforts – $213 million – an amount so negligible that it’s clearly just a token. If this law passes, it will be hard to see a difference been the motives of the tobacco companies to profit from people’s addiction and the health groups furthering their own agendas on those same people’s addiction. If the recipients of the proposed tax are all worthy causes, then they should be funded through a fair and equitable application of taxes. The state’s health care system – indeed, all the state’s infrastructure and services – has suffered from years of this squirrelly approach to tax policy. Since every tax is fought so vociferously, the answer has been to pick on one unpopular class of society or another. And even though statistics show that smokers as a class are low- and moderate-income, they are hit up again and again to pay for all of society’s ills. The Tobacco Act of 2006 is nothing more than taxation by victimization, an attempt of the majority to tyrannize a minority. That’s the worst kind of tax policy. Let the coalition bring a fair and honest proposal to raise money for the state’s health care problems, and then we can debate the merits of the beneficiaries – not of the nature of the tax.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!