Sunday, January 4, 2004

Let's Talk

We received many responses from readers on the proposal by Kentucky's state Rep. John Draud, R-Edgewood, to raise the state's tobacco tax.

Why not tax other hazards as well?

Regarding the editorial "Raise Kentucky's tobacco tax soon" (Dec. 26): Tobacco is an easy target. I am not a smoker, but I am disturbed to see smokers under attack by state officials and nonsmokers through taxation and workplace prohibition. Why should smokers suffer a tax increase to pay for mismanagement and overspending by our elected representatives?

Why not add a 75-cent tax to fast-food meals? Fast food is high in fat, cholesterol and sodium and low in protein. It is unhealthy and a major contributor to obesity and heart disease. Why not add a 75-cent tax to each gallon of gasoline? Increased gas use boosts dangerous emissions and pollution.

Cigarettes are an easy tax target because smokers are a minority. Today it is smokers; who will the target be tomorrow?

Dimitri Karageorge, Florence


Smokers should be taxed as much as possible

As a constituent of Rep. Jon Draud, R-Edgewood, I fully support his proposal to raise the tobacco tax in Kentucky. I am so sick of the filth that smokers create in the air and on the ground, and so sick of seeing people slowly kill themselves with that dirty old weed, and the sky is the limit for taxes on tobacco as far as I am concerned.

Louis J. Trauth III, Edgewood


Draud plan would raise taxes overall

I'm disappointed in the Dec. 21 article on the proposed net tax increase by Rep. Jon Draud, R-Edgewood ("Bill would raise, lower taxes; Proposes more for smoking, less for cars," Kentucky Enquirer).

First, neither the major nor minor headline convey that total taxes would be increased, but rather they convey that there is a balanced tradeoff. That's misleading and supportive of Draud's position that it's "win-win for the people." The main headline should have been, "Bill would raise overall taxes." This is much more accurate. With the existing minor headline, one now would get a decent sense of the proposal.

The article also failed to mention that the cigarette tax increase falls disproportionately on Kentucky's lower-income people, while the vehicle tax reduction goes mainly to those better off because they disproportionately buy expensive vehicles. This doesn't consider the income deduction benefit allowed on federal taxes for the vehicle tax that reduces its impact.

A much better move for Kentucky's people would be to increase the cigarette tax over time to adjust for inflation since it was last changed - in the 1950s, I believe - and let the vehicle tax alone.

Vern Goetz, Villa Hills


Higher tobacco tax could curb smoking

I agree with Rep. Jon Draud, R-Edgewood, on raising the tobacco tax to 75 cents a pack. It is time for all lawmakers to put politics aside and do what is right for the citizens of Kentucky. A tax this high could prevent our children from taking up this deadly addiction and save the state the expense of the huge medical costs that are incurred as a result of smoking.

Glenda Mussman, Edgewood


Don't overlook NKU in tobacco tax bounty

I'm all for raising Kentucky's tobacco taxes to the national average of 70 cents a pack. If we cut the state's motor vehicle tax by about a third as Rep. Jon Draud, R-Edgewood, suggests, we could realize a net gain of about $200 million.

But let's be sure to earmark a good share for Northern Kentucky University. The across-the-board budget slashing that Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher is proposing for our state universities and colleges seems particularly unfair to Northern Kentucky families and taxpayers, when NKU students are already underfunded by about 20 percent per student compared with other state schools, and were already stuck with a tuition increase last year. This seems like a responsible and reasonable solution. I hope the lawmakers in Frankfort realize that most of us can vote.

Matt Thompson, Union, Ky.

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