Editorial: Voters want cigarette tax

Governor Barbour once again called the Mississippi Legislature back to the capitol yesterday for another special session he says will go on until a solution for the Medicaid funding shortfall of $90 million is reached.

Today, the House voted to tell the Governor not to cut any Medicaid services until at least February.

Some lawmakers argue the Legislature can't tell the governor what to do, while others claim Barbour has manufactured a budget crisis. This is the second special session this year.

Seven On Your Side received the results of a survey sponsored by a statewide coalition of health organizations that says nearly 69 percent of 500 likely voters surveyed said they favored a $1-a-pack tax on cigarettes to pay for Medicaid.

A voluntary Web-poll this week on wdam.com, while not scientific, showed a very similar result.

The governor, once a lobbyist for big tobacco companies, has adamantly refused to even consider the tax on cigarettes as a solution.  Bed taxes on hospitals have even been considered instead.

We don't wish to demonize smokers. However, smoking has been proven to pose so many health risks that if it were discovered today it would most certainly be made illegal.

But, it is a problem affecting us all, and we think the smokers should help shoulder at least part of the health care load rather than putting it on people who have to be admitted to a hospital.

We sincerely hope the additional tax is the only consequence smokers ever have from this insidious addiction.

Let us hear from you.

Contact Jim Cameron at jcameron@wdam.com