As a student at Temple’s crowded Main Campus, I often find myself continuously dodging people in order to elude the health hazardous secondhand smoke that comes from numerous students’ mouths.
I frequently end up just giving up on the exhausting endeavor of weaving in out of students and make myself swallow the floating cigarette smoke that wallows in the air behind the numerous smokers on campus. I am hoping that with the new federal cigarette tax increase, I will not have to focus as much on this strange form of dodgeball I find myself playing.
On Feb. 4, Congress passed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009. The act, which becomes effective April 1, calls for federal cigarette taxes to be raised from 39 cents to 61 cents, making the total federal tax on cigarettes $1. This will presumably further increase the overall prices of cigarettes as manufactures feel pressured to raise their individual prices. The act also places an excise tax on all other tobacco products, including cigarette papers and cigars.
Although many people, especially students who are usually strapped for cash, may think the tax increase on cigarettes is unfair, ultimately it may be helping to save numerous people’s health, including my own, which is being jeopardized by others’ actions.
Higher prices will hopefully provide the extra motivation many smokers need to quit. Karla Sneegas, the executive director of Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation, said as much in an interview in the Indianapolis Star.
“Any time that there’s an increase in the price of tobacco at the retail level, that translates to people trying to quit.”
The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids estimates the federal tax increase will encourage more than 1 million adult smokers to quit. It will also prevent approximately 90,000 smoking-related deaths.
“This will probably help me smoke less, basically, because I’m broke,” said Morgan Maze, a sophomore criminal justice and sociology major.
Everyone knows cigarettes are unhealthy. This is just one more incentive to keep people from contributing to the health damaging habit, the same habit that also happens to be the No. 1 cause of preventable death in America.
The money gained from the taxes will be used to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Not only will the money be beneficial to kids by providing health care to millions of uninsured, but could also help save them from dying of cigarette-related diseases in the future. We should always strive to pass legislation like this that creates such clear benefits.
Insurance is more imperative than a quick fix from a cigarette, and if that quick fix seems unavoidable, then at least some of the money spent for it will go towards a good cause.
Children, smokers and nonsmokers like me will benefit from the federal tax increase. Many of those left complaining will only end up thanking Congress later after they realize the improved conditions it will bring to people’s states of health. Maybe one day, the irritated smokers will become irritated nonsmokers and will instead start to complain about the secondhand smoke being blown in their faces.
Considering tobacco smoke contains 250 toxic chemical compounds, and the secondhand smoke it produces is comparable to smoking in terms of the health hazards it induces, I am eager to support any reasonable proposition that would help to reduce secondhand smoke, especially one that insures more than a million children at the same time.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 126 million Americans are exposed to secondhand smoke.
I am looking forward to the federal tax increase and seeing the extent it will help decrease the amount of secondhand smoke that my lungs are forced to intake.
Grace Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.