Friday, December 17, 2010

Stop and Thank a Smoker

So, since it's the holidays, and it's best time of year to stop and reflect on life, and the gift of Jesus Christ, I thought it was time to bring up one group of people who should be thanked.


Have you ever stopped to consider how many programs are funded by their voluntary purchase of a product? I don't think this is an exhaustive list, just a list of recent programs that don't have much to do with tobacco use. We here in Arizona have a lot of our own. For every pack of cigarettes, the consumer pays $2.00 to the State.

1. 1% goes to Smoke Free Arizona. A public information campaign. Don't Smoke. Yet, it's funded by smokers. So if everyone followed the advice of the Smoke Free movement, how would they be funded? Do you think they really want people to stop smoking? I doubt it...

3. 40% Early Childhood Education fund which funds any number of early childhood education programs, whatever that means.

4. 30% to the Tobacco Products Tax Fund, in my opinion, is the most nefarious of the overall tax. Here's what it does.
Forty-two cents of each $1.00 in the fund is deposited in the Proposition 204 Protection Account which helps fund health insurance coverage for more uninsured residents ; five cents of each $1.00 is deposited in the Health Research Fund to be used for research into tobacco-related diseases; 27 cents of each $1.00 is deposited in the Medically Needy Account, which is used to provide health insurance for low-income residents; 20 cents of each $1.00 is deposited in the Emergency Health Services Account where it is to be used for reimbursement of uncompensated care, primary care services and trauma center readiness costs as appropriated by the legislature; four cents of each $1.00 is deposited in a health care adjustment account; and two cents of each $1.00 goes to the Health Education Account for tobacco prevention programs. This increase in the cigarette tax was passed by voters in 2002.
So, this portion funds everything. From the uninsured to the trauma centers to the Health Education Account! Bureaucracy! Don't you love it? Everyone's got an interest in this pot.

4. 20% goes to Tobacco Tax and Health Care fund which partially funds the Health Education Account, and also funds the Medically Needy Account.

The remaining 9% of the cigarette tax is distributed as follows: 19.44 percent to state school aid, until June 30, 2015 - 11.11 percent to the corrections fund and the remainder to the general fund.

If you have children, thank a smoker. If your child goes to school, thank a smoker. If your child attends some sort of government funded school, or before/after care programs, thank a smoker. If you or your child has ever gone to urgent care of the hospital, thank a smoker. If you or someone you love is on Medicare, thank a smoker.

There is also a federal tax ($1 per pack) on cigarettes which goes to fund SCHIP, or the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which gives medical coverage to any child and illegal immigrant. Thank a smoker for partially funding this.

All in all, I think we owe smokers a huge debt of gratitude for basically keeping us all knowledgeable about the dangers of their behavior and helping to keep us healthy. Instead we make them out to be the villains of this country; the great Satans of society.

I, for one, stand up and say thank you to smokers everywhere in this great country.