Help smokers quit the habit
While non-smokers are cheering last year's health impact fee on cigarettes, and current legislation to ban smoking in indoor places, let's remember there are a lot of smokers who aren't as joyous, and would like to quit, but can't. We should be r...
While non-smokers are cheering last year's health impact fee on cigarettes, and current legislation to ban smoking in indoor places, let's remember there are a lot of smokers who aren't as joyous, and would like to quit, but can't. We should be ready to devote resources to helping them quit smoking if they choose.
Smoking cessation programs got a lot of press a few years back when the states settled tobacco lawsuits with the big producers. Since then, the programs have either gone up in smoke, or are nearly invisible to smokers.
We must realize there is a great deal of hypocrisy in leaving this substance legal and unregulated by the FDA, while filling government coffers with the cigarette tax dollars and passing laws that say you can smoke all you want -- you just can't do it in very many places on planet Earth.
Don't get us wrong: the evidence of the health harm of smoking and second-hand smoke are beyond reproach. But before we throw a ticker tape parade, let's remember we haven't solved this problem -- we've simply hidden it.
We propose the proceeds for this health impact fee and all others derived from tobacco should go to fund cessation programs. Yes, all of the funds. And they should be used for a few initiatives:
- Make cessation methods universally free for the smoker. Want to pick up some nicotine patches from Pamida? You should have a free voucher to use to do it. Need to see your doctor to consult about quitting? The state and federal governments should pick up the bill. Want hypno-therapy, a support group or other method? Let's foot the bill.
- Put a sticker on all packs of cigarettes that advertise the cessation programs. We don't need to spend money advertising in newspapers or on radio, TV or billboards -- we have a vehicle to reach each and every smoker. If Joe Camel can offer rewards for smoking, we can offer rewards for quitting.
- Pour money into research and development to find the root of nicotine addictions. Already, some pharmaceutical companies have found drugs that can help. Can we find a silver bullet to help people quit?
We will find out very soon who is more addicted -- the smoker, or the tax collector who relies on cigarette tax revenue.