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LETTERS: State cigarette tax hike a worthy move

To the editor:

A recent op-ed criticized a legislative proposal in the amended version of state Senate Bill 483 that would increase the excise tax on a pack of cigarettes from 80 cents to $1.80 (“Massive cigarette tax hike would burn state,” May 11 Review-Journal). This bill recently passed out of the Senate and is now headed to the Assembly for review. In the op-ed, Paul Blair of Americans for Tax Reform concludes that cigarette tax increases are unstable revenue streams that lead to increases in cigarette smuggling.

Tobacco use costs the state $1.08 billion in annual health care costs directly caused by smoking and another $1.09 billion in smoking-caused productivity losses. An estimated 4,100 adults die every year in Nevada from their own smoking; 41,000 children will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.

The good news is that state and local governments can reduce tobacco use, save lives and save money. Higher tobacco taxes, coupled with well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs and smoke-free work and public places, are proven solutions to this public health problem.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, increased tobacco taxes are especially effective at reducing smoking among youth. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by about 7 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent.

Additionally, a 2015 Institute of Medicine report found that every state that has significantly increased its tobacco tax has enjoyed substantial increases in revenue despite the inevitable declines in tobacco consumption.

Along with the new revenue generated, the decline in tobacco use will also save the state millions of dollars in related health care costs over the long term.

The Institute of Medicine report downplays the loss of revenue to states from illicit trade of cigarettes once taxes are increased: “Even though tax avoidance and tax evasion might increase in response to higher taxes, the loss from those actions would be less than the gain from the higher taxes.”

National and state polls across the country show overwhelming public support for tobacco tax increases, especially if the revenues are directed for tobacco prevention and cessation. This support extends across party lines and throughout all regions of the country.

JOSEPH P. ISER

LAS VEGAS

The writer is chief health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District.

Cartoon conflict

To the editor:

Apparently, according to letter writer Richard Ziskind, my university degree does not negate the fact that I am a member of “the lowest common denominator” of our population, a “zealot,” and let’s not forget the added “mentally unstable individual” thrown in for good measure (“Cartoon complaint,” Sunday Review-Journal). All this simply because I enjoy and appreciate the wit of Michael Ramirez’s political cartoons.

It’s the typical liberal response to any and all opinions contrary to their own — name-calling and stereotyping. If Mr. Ziskind is so offended by Michael Ramirez, he has the choice of simply not reading the cartoons. However, he does not have the right to impose his point of view on others to the extent of dictating the content of the Opinion pages.

SUSAN LEVY

LAS VEGAS

Former cop’s plea deal

To the editor:

Ex-Metro detective Michael Kitchen drove a police vehicle to a massage business for service (“Ex-detective takes deal in alleged attack on prostitute,” May 6 Review-Journal). He’s also accused of attacking a prostitute, breaking her wrist following a disagreement. Isn’t that an imprisonable offense? Yet now he’s getting a plea deal and likely just probation.

Police should be held to a higher standard. This ex-officer was obviously a bully with a badge. Mr. Kitchen should be placed on the list of those banned from owning firearms. Instead, he is now set up to receive an annual pension once he becomes eligible.

Where is the public outrage?

CHAS MUSSER

LAS VEGAS

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