Cigarette tax, obesity bill along same lines

Published 12:27 am Tuesday, February 5, 2008

In a recent Democrat editorial asking whether or not Mississippi should reconsider increasing the cigarette tax the authors pointed out that the tax on food could be lowered and the revenue lost offset by an increased cigarette tax.

The Democrat editorial board may find opposition to the plan proposed by Rep. W.T. Mayhall Jr., who on Friday submitted House Bill No. 282 asking that Mississippi restaurants no longer be allowed to serve customers who are obese as defined by Mississippi statute.

Rep. Mayhall, who wrote the bill because of the “urgency of the obesity crisis and need for government intervention” hopes his bill will “call attention to the serious problem of obesity and what it is costing the Medicare system.” Rep. Mayhall would be more likely to support an increased tax on groceries than a lowered one, given the serious nature of the crisis he is addressing.

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Rep. Mayhall’s argument against allowing obese people to eat in restaurants, high cost to the health care system, is the same argument often used by proponents of increased cigarette taxes.

However, as Al Gore pointed out this past summer in response to a question from Hillary Clinton as to which would be more effective in solving the carbon dioxide crisis threatening life on planet Earth, carbon emission caps or a carbon emission tax, draconian socialistic legislative measures need not be exclusive. “We can have both,” Nobel Prize winner and climate expert Gore replied.

I invite my fellow Democrat readers to join me in supporting House Bill No. 282 and an increase in the cigarette tax, and an increase in the grocery tax as well. Better than both, we can have all three. The average American who pays taxes currently pays only around 50 percent of his or her income in taxes of all sort. Clearly there is some tax revenue still available to address all the threats to our collective health and lack of government revenue.

In addition, if Adams County will extend me the same interstate voting rights Concordia Parish has so graciously extended to Adams County residents, I will even back up my support with voter support for HB 282 and the cigarette and grocery tax increase.

Marty Ellerbe

Vidalia resident