According to numerous reports, expansion of the program (which would allow families with income up to $82,000 to qualify) would be financed with a 156 percent increase in the federal cigarette tax, taking it to $1 per pack from the current 39 cents.
And this tax will impact recipients of the SCHIP program more than others. Low-income people smoke more heavily than do wealthier people in the United States, making cigarette taxes a regressive form of revenue. Nearly one-third of all U.S. adults living in poverty are smokers, compared with 23.5 percent of those above the poverty level, according to government statistics.
So we allow expansion of the program to those who are not 'low income' or in poverty by imposing a tax that impacts low income and the poor more than others. Where's the logic in that?
But the biggest anti-logic of this expansion is the lack of any discussion or debate about basic demographics and their impact on this bill - maybe because there is little sympathy, in Congress or the nation as a whole, for taxing such a vice.
So consider this: you've got the U.S. Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) all providing grants and funding for anti-smoking campaigns. There are numerous opportunities at the state level for anti-smoking funds as well. Everyone, it seems, is spending money to get people to stop smoking - or to prevent them from starting in the first place.
And then you have this quote from Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who said, during the House debate,
"And in order to get enough money to pay for this, it would require 22 million new smokers."
Spend money over here to get people to not smoke while spending money over there counting on an increase in smokers...Anti-logic!