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Posted: April 1, 2009 12:30 a.m.

Taxing those who tax us

Taxes and increased fines are highlights of last week's legislative talks in Congress as well as the Georgia General Assembly.

Tobacco users across the country will now have to offer a few more silver coins for every pack or carton they buy as federal lawmakers are increasing tobacco taxes to help fund children's healthcare initiatives across the country.

Some have criticized the move saying this is unfair because a majority of smokers are poor and, of course, addicted to nicotine. We hope a punch to the wallet will encourage some, if not all, to quit.

Tobacco companies have made millions off of the addictive nature of cigarettes, cigars, snuff and chewing tobacco for years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that smoking results in 443,000 premature deaths and costs the economy $193 billion in health care expenses each year. Why not put some of they money back toward programs that aid children's health and, perhaps, maladies caused or related to second-hand smoke, or smoking prevention programs could receive a large portion of the funds.

Health care reform still has a long way to go in this country and we hope legislators don't think this will solve all the problems relating to children's health care.

In Georgia, Gov. Sonny Perdue is likely to sign a bill that would impose extra fines (around $200) for "super speeders" or those who travel more 85 m.p.h. on four-lane roads and 75 m.p.h. on two-lane roads. Fines for reinstating licenses could top $400. The fines will go toward bolstering the state's troubled trauma care system.

Because "super speeders" result in many car accidents, some fatal, and victims in turn need care at a trauma center, we feel this is a good move on the part of the General Assembly - combating two problems at once.

Hopefully, this will discourage some lane-weavers who make driving on Georgia roads, especially in the Atlanta metro area, dangerous for those who follow the rules.

Once again, critics have complained that economically disadvantaged drivers will have trouble paying the fines. We say - don't speed then.

This is not a fix-all measure for trauma care facilities in Georgia, but it shows that legislators understand there is a problem, and realizing the problem is the first step toward correcting it.


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