The Journal Gazette
Thursday, February 28, 2019 1:00 am


Cigarette tax hike is the healthy choice

It is way past time for Indiana to raise the cigarette tax. If we want to be first, or just in the top 10, in overall health – instead of 41st – and if we want to be first, or even just fourth, in fewest number of adult smokers – instead of 44th – we need to take action and it needs to be taken now.

We focus on making Indiana good for business in so many ways without ever looking at doing the most powerful thing we could do to make Indiana's workforce healthier and cheaper to insure: take proven policy steps to drive down the smoking rate. There is no reason to keep making it easy and accessible to smoke in Indiana. Make it hurt for people to think about buying smokes. After all, it is hurting all of us who pay the consequences.

Polls consistently show 70 percent of Hoosier voters support higher cigarette taxes, especially if the money raised is then invested in tobacco prevention and public health. It is a win-win-win situation: a win for smokers who quit because they will gain better health and stop bleeding their finances to pay for their addiction; a win for employers, who gain lower health care costs and healthier, more productive workers; and a win for the state budget, which stands to gain an extra $350 million or more per year – much-needed funds that can be invested in Hoosier health – and stop being so heavily affected by high smoking-related healthcare expenses.

Nancy Cripe

Executive director, Tobacco Free Allen County

Students rally Saturday to promote gun bills

Our Republican-majority legislature should shift its focus from increasing the availability of guns in public places to sensible gun regulation such as the three bills in committee that would require background checks on all gun sales in Indiana.

Universal background checks were a major issue of the Student March For Our Lives last year as 6,000 students and those supporting them were forced into the Statehouse atrium because of the miserable snow conditions. The students were there following the Parkland school shooting to say never again. Committee hearings were not granted on the background-check bills.

The chairs of the Senate Judiciary and House Public Policy committees have turned their backs on Indiana's students. To protest, the students have organized a March For Our Lives 2019 event on at noon Saturday on the west side of the Statehouse. Be there to support our students.

Ed Smith

President, Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence 

Calling Trump a racist discounts the evidence

Every day it seems we hear Democrats and liberal talking heads attack the president as a racist. Red MAGA hats are now a symbol of racism, even being compared to the white hoods of the KKK. But think about it.

Unemployment for African-Americans is at a decades-low level. Under President Obama it was at a high of 16.8 percent and at a low of around 8 percent. Under President Trump it has fallen below 6 percent. But Trump is a racist.

Hispanic unemployment under Obama started around 5.5 percent then rose to 13 percent. Under Trump, it has been less than 4 percent. But Trump is a racist.

Trump's Cabinet has represented African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians. But Trump is a racist.

Obama forced Obamacare down the throats of America while lying about its virtues. This has hurt families of all races. Trump wants to build a physical barrier on our southern border but Trump is a racist.

Trump's daughter married a Jewish business leader. Trump didn't disown his daughter. But Trump is a racist.

With all of Trump's hotels and other business ventures, it would only make sense that there is a lot of diversity reflected in the employee group: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, gays, straight, atheists, religious, etc. But Trump is a racist.

Will the attacks ever end? No. The left, the media, Hollywood all hate the man they once adored – until he became president. And they label anyone, regardless of their ethnicity, racist as well. Our country continues to decline as people replace thinking with mob mentalities. God help us all. Or is the Almighty now racist? I can't keep up.

Jim Johnson

Fort Wayne

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