Parkinson moves against tobacco

Gov. Mark Parkinson may take advantage of his self-imposed lame duck status and push for a tax increase on tobacco products next year, he said Tuesday.
A report from the Lawrence Journal-World quoted the Democrat as saying he would also ask the 2010 Legislature to ban smoking in public places statewide.
Parkinson, who has said repeatedly he will not seek re-election, noted that the Kansas tax on cigarettes is only 79 cents a package, far below the national average of $1.32. Raising the tax, he said, might discourage some young people from starting the addictive habit.
The report also quoted the Kansas Health Authority as saying that nearly 4,000 Kansans die each year from smoking-related diseases, including 290 blamed on secondhand smoke, such as that inhaled by workers in bars, restaurants and other places where smoking is still allowed.
(Death from chronic bronchitis, other lung diseases and cancer is a very drawn-out, painful ordeal: stop smoking now.)
Parkinson — the Democrat best placed to give Republican Sen. Sam Brownback a run for his money next fall —deserves credit for going after cigarettes and other tobacco products. They clearly are the cause of a huge number of preventable deaths every year. They should be banned. Since that logical action seems politically impossible to take, taxing them to death is next best.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.