Joycelyn Elders in Arkansas Business: Raise the Cigarette Tax

Pro-cigarette tax

Elders: Pro-cigarette tax

Arkansas Business was packed with lots of local business and government celebrities this week, Gov. Mike Beebe and Stephens COO Curt Bradbury among them.

But don’t forget that letter to the editor from our nation’s infamous former Surgeon General, Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders, who wholeheartedly endorsed Beebe’s plan to raise the state’s cigarette tax by 56 cents. Elders likes the idea both from a smoking prevention standpoint and a projected savings in health care costs tied to tobacco use of $600 million a year:

When people begin to use tobacco products as teens, their addiction to nicotine is so great that it is as hard to quit as it is to break the addiction to heroin. Anything we can do to prevent our teens from using tobacco will help them be healthier for their entire lives. This is good for individuals because lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer in America for both men and women. Nationally, more than 440,000 Americans die each year, including almost 50,000 people who die because of secondhand smoke.

Say what you will about the merits of Beebe’s plan (or an alternate plan by Rep. Ed Garner, R-Maumelle). But it’s clear this smoking debate is bringing out an array of characters on all sides. Noted: Former Repulican Congressman Dick Armey’s dog-and-pony show against Beebe’s plan, scheduled for tomorrow.

Elders’ full letter here. Look for the Beebe bill to come up Wednesday in the House Rules Committee.


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