Will taxing smokers make kids healthy?

Governor Kulongoski wants the state to offer free or highly subsidized health insurance to all uninsured kids in Oregon by significantly increasing the cigarette tax. His “Health Kids Program” passed out of a House committee on a party line vote Friday and now goes to the Revenue Committee.

This, despite my testimony* listing several problems with the concept, including the concern that we would be taxing a group that has less income, less education, less employment and less health insurance than the average Oregonian.

Of course, smokers are also a relatively powerless minority, so they’re an easy target for those wanting to impose the next step in their vision of universal health insurance. We’ll have to see how this morality play plays out.

*Listen to the entire hearing. My testimony begins at 26:30.

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