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May 14th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Tax cigarettes, alcohol, junk food to pay for health care reform?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Health care reform won't come cheap, and that's why lawmakers are considering higher taxes on everything from alcohol and cigarettes to junk food and soda as a way to pay for it. The Senate Finance Committee is looking into how to pay for this massive overhaul, which could cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

So-called sin taxes may raise $600 billion over the next decade.

Several experts are suggesting taxes on bad behavior, including a $2 dollar tax on a pack of cigarettes and a higher excise tax on alcohol.

Politico reports that the ranking Republican on the committee, Senator Chuck Grassley is nixing the idea of taxing soda and sugary drinks. But it's easy to see why so-called sin taxes are appealing - taxing cigarettes, junk foods and alcohol could raise $600 billion over 10 years.

A recent poll found support among Americans for imposing such taxes to help pay for health care reform. The Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows 61 percent of those polled say they would be in favor of raising taxes on items that are thought to be unhealthy - like cigarettes, alcohol, junk food and soda. 37 percent are opposed.

When asked about specific items, there's more support for taxing cigarettes and alcohol than snack foods and soda.

But before you start hoarding your beer and chips, Congress is also looking at other ways to pay for reform - like eliminating the tax-free status of company health benefits along with non-health related options like capping the deduction on charitable donations.

Here’s my question to you: Is taxing cigarettes, alcohol and junk food a good way to pay for health care reform?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

S. in St. Louis, Missouri
Dear Jack, Every time they want to raise taxes, they stick it to little guy; lower-income people at the poverty level are the ones who will feel the brunt of this taxation.

Scott from Freeport, Illinois writes:
Jack, I’m a smoker and I agree that we should enforce higher taxes on cigarettes, junk food and soda. These are things that are not good for us and maybe it'll keep us healthier in the long run by thinking twice about buying these items. Health care is essential for all Americans and if this will allow us to pay for and afford health care, then why not.

Gail from St. Paul, Minnesota writes:
Jack, Smokers are already taxed to the max. My husband and I became addicted to cigarettes when we were teenagers in the 1960s. Cigarettes were cheap, and the government was generously subsidizing tobacco growers. We have tried repeatedly to quit. As you know, addiction is a disease. Anyone who says he or she quit easily wasn't addicted. So we're among the chosen scapegoats

Tom from Alexandria, Virginia writes:
Ethical behavior by the health care and pharma industry is the real problem. As long as the industry is allowed to push pills and medical advice through advertising, people will take treatments and drugs that they don't really need because of the fear created by the propaganda that the industry puts out. The industry's goal is to make profits not help people.

Joseph writes:
Jack, I'll tell you whether I favor taxing junk food as soon as you give me an exact definition of what junk food is. Too tough to define? Then we shouldn't tax it.

Mark writes:
What is the controversy? Those who persist in creating a health care crisis by ingesting crap into their bodies should pay for their vices. Why should I, as a non-smoker, non-drinker, gym-goer pay higher health care costs for the indulgences of the mindless?


Filed under: Health care • Taxes
soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. David in San Diego

    I don't think so. It perpetuates the myth that we can get services without "really" paying for them. Universal health insurance is too beneficial a public good to be paid for "on the margin." Let's face reality–general revenues should be used to pay for broadly general programs. Making junk products more expensive is a good thing in itself–not as a funding source for health insurance.

    May 14, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  2. Cheryl

    Yes, it would be a two-fold solution. It would add revenue and it would encourage people to live healthier by cutting back on smoking, drinking and bad food choices. Another wonderful upside is that fast-food restaurants would either have more healthy alternatives to their menus or people would eat more at home. I do drink socially and would feel that it was appropriate to pay more.

    May 14, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
  3. olivia knoxville

    Yes, I am 25 years old, smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, weigh 275 lbs, heght 5'4, and eat six bon bons a day and I will answer the rest of the question after I drink two liters of diet coke. If i live to be 35 the taxes on cigarettes, alchohol, and junk foods should help supplement my health care.

    May 14, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  4. Dave, Brooklyn, NY

    It is a financial incentive to live a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, it is only an incentive to the lower income groups who will be inventivized the most. The wealthy and well off will continue to do what they want.

    May 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  5. Greg in Cabot Arkansas

    It's a STUPID idea….why do we always think we should tax one group of consumers to pay for programs that will benefit everyone else.

    In Arkansas, we passed an increase in tobacco tax to fund new trauma centers. As people stop smoking or cut back…revenue goes down so funds to run the trauma centers will go down, guess who gets to make up the difference…..us taxpayers.

    Why not have a national sales tax to fund national programs so everyone can share the burden….I bet there would be far less government programs if everyone had the obligation to contribute.

    May 14, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  6. C-Money

    No way! Because I love Wendy's and I refused to be taxed for this crap.
    I thnk they should charge cigarettes and alcohol because they are bad for you

    May 14, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  7. Lama, Boston

    I gotta say that since I don't drink or smoke and I avoid junk food like the plague, this sounds perfectly fine to me. On the other hand, I'm not sure this is the way to go.

    Health care reform can pay for itself once we increase things like preventative medicine and awareness. Many people drink in moderation and only eat junk food every once in a while; we shouldn't have to suffer for every choice we make. We simply need to learn how to make the correct choices (most of the time).

    May 14, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  8. Ray Kinserlow

    Tobacco and alcohol, be my guest as long as they don't put a "sin" tax on my nicotine gum. Junk food is more problematical. The government could spend the next millennium determining the difference between junk food and real food.

    Ray Kinserlow
    Lubbock, Texas

    May 14, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  9. James W. Hawkins

    Yes, Jack, let's tax ALL that bad stuff. All of it accounts for most of our health problems anyway. What's that about "if you wanna dance you have to pay the fiddler"?

    Woody in Alexandria, Egypt

    May 14, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  10. Tim from Dallas

    Jack, this is so long overdue.....I dont sweat the percentage of the population that chooses to take a "free ride" (a percentage that is next to impossible to pinpoint and prove anyway!) No, I sweat the millions of Americans who CHOOSE to indulge in these terribly unhealthy practices, and then pass the cost of the healthcare that those practices cause on to me! You want to endanger your health by choice? Fine. But I don't want to pay for it (or you!)
    I wish someone would start a health insurance company that only catered to those who could prove they don't drink, smoke, eat loads of junk, etc....I wonder if the healthcare costs for such individuals (and the company) would be lower than those of today's "traditional" companies.......I'm gonna guess "yes" on that one!

    May 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  11. Michael

    Well this is just a great idea. I've always thought our government should use tax policy to tell people what to do. I mean let just take a step further and let congress have the power to tell us what we can eat and drink, and alos where and when we can sleep. Better yet lets just have a socialistic society where the government just controls everything. Oh wait that is already happening.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  12. sitting in Greensboro Airport

    Jack – I'm not totally against this idea, but there are so many other ways to raise money. I'm sick of American companies complaining about paying one of the highest corporate tax rate – 31% my (you know what!) By the time the lawyers find every possible loop hole, they pay no where near that percentage. I feel (i know that most people will disagree with me) that income taxes should be fair. All Americans should pay the same percentage, with regards to income taxes. Sure the rich will say that it isnt fair b/c they are paying more.... oh well, you're more fortunate. In my head (using a round number like 10%) losing 100k for a person that makes $1,000,000 is less significant than losing 3k for a person that makes $30,000. ....... or is my logic completely flawed. I dont think this will ever happen, so im not naive. also, im open to suggestions...... thx!

    May 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  13. yasmin syed

    these unhealthy food items and cigarettes are the thing that make us sick and raise our health care expenses so raising taxes are not only going to raise money but also discourage people to buy those and it would be the other plus side....

    May 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  14. Brian

    Absolutely. Those who smoke, drink and pound quad-stacker bacon wrapped breaded deep fried burgers will also be the ones utilizing the system the most!

    In the pay-for-performance arenas where hospitals need to perform or be met with lower payer reimbursements, why are people any different? You should perform meaning to live a good and healthy life. For this, you pay less. It's just like auto insurance. Good driver pay less. Low tornado and flood areas pay less for housing insurance.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  15. Mark

    Great you get a TAX CREDIT and then as asual the DEMS. like to nickle and dime you to death on taxing every other thing, what's the next tax, using the restroom?

    Wake up America

    May 14, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  16. Independent Joe (Brainerd)

    Jack,

    The segment of society that is more likely to eat poorly, smoke, and drink is the poor to middle class. What happen to taxing the rich?

    May 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  17. George

    What are you do gooders going to do when cigarettes are gone. OMG you may have to pay taxes too? That is terrible. In Pennsylvania we smokers are already funding children's health care, and the thanks we get is to be standing outside in the bad weather. We are treated like 3rd class citizens by the same people that we are insuring their children. What a joke. America you are taking away freedoms, that our ancestors fought and died to preserve.
    Next you may want to take away our cars. They pollute more than a little cigarette. Wake up America!!

    May 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  18. Jason

    Absolutely, taxing cigarettes, alcohol, and junk food is a great way to raise capitol. Why would we not raise taxes on soda? It's a major contributor to the obesity of americans.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  19. Jon

    I think it's a good way. We've got to pay for it somehow, and I would prefer to pay a bit more for a six pack than have my medical insurance payments subject to higher taxes. I'd go a step farther and legalize and tax marijuana as well.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  20. Brittnay Palm Beach, Florida

    I think it makes more sense then not. The people that are putting the most strain on our insurance companies (the smokers, obese) will now be paying for it. I can not see one problem with this!

    May 14, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  21. Julie

    I don't understand the thought process. Presumably, these taxes are put in place to try to deter people from engaging in a particular behavior, not just to punish people. If that is the case, there must not be much of a belief it will work. If legislators thought it would work, they would not tie their revenue stream to a declining behavior. If everyone stops smoking, drinking, and eating donuts, all we've done is destroy industries and simultaneously kill the revenue to pay for our healthcare. Can someone explain this to me?

    May 14, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  22. Ann from Hampton, New Jersey

    Since this is going to pay for health care, this would be a proper way. Our children are being raised on junk food and fast food. What is to become of them by the time they reach adulthood? This would be an excellent way of getting them onto the path of eating fruit and veggies.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  23. tigerakabj

    I think so Jack. We've got to start eating better anyway. Our fast food, high-fat, sugar diets have been decades in the making, and have finally caught up with us. Our bad eating habits collectively increase levels of diabetes, heart problems, etc = more pressure on our healthcare system as a whole. So in the end, we end up paying alot more, than if we just eat healthier right from the start.

    I see this measure the same as putting a market-based cap on carbon pollution (in a way that doesn't up the price on consumers), which makes clean energy profitable. Our dirty and unsustainable energy usage will then pump money into the energy of tomorrow. This measure will aspect of providing our advancement into a green economy.

    Just like our dependency on foreign oil, our fast food dependence are dangerous for our country. Our healthcare and energy policy go hand in hand.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  24. Joseph Condon

    Older and more people cause health care cost. Progressively tax birthdays until people die. Tax copulation if it produces a person. Hell, just tax everyone and everything at 100% and get it over with. It's what the damn liberals want to make everyone equal.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  25. George in Pa.

    They should put a tax on all po;iticians and increase it every time one of them lies.Most in there now are more harm-ful to americans than what they want to tax

    May 14, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  26. Bill in Michigan

    It's probably not the best way, and part of the problem would be just what relegates to junk food. California tried this once with the "Snack Tax", and it was a taxalogical nightmare. But, if they do start taxing the junk, I just might lose a few pounds in my trunk.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  27. Jerry; Alpharetta, GA

    This is a bad idea. The government bureaucracy that would have to be created to collect and monitor these taxes would far exceed the money collected. Why not through away the entire tax code and start from scratch. Get rid of all deductions since a vast majority of them are just for the wealthy. Then tax everyone on their gross earnings. The creation of incentives is just wrong for the long term.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  28. Diane/Allentown, PA

    Ok Jack, I quit smoking and don't eat junk food, they're gonna tax my cc and ginger ale!? Come on!

    Here's a better idea Jack, revamp the benefit programs for all of our elected officials, state and local, and especially Washington. These guys have so many fringe benefits, no health care costs at all, a retirement plan like no other, numerous allowable expenses, all paid for by us. And the most horrendous benefit, an annual raise, with the national debt at record levels, unemployment at an all time high, they did not miss their raise this year did they?

    Why should we, the employers be worse off than our elected "employees?" Nobody seems to want to address this issue, and seriously Jack, can you imagine why? It's time to start cutting, starting with pay rates, and move on from there.

    I know, like this will ever happen. I'm surprised the media isn't all over this.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  29. Darin

    I think this is a great incentive for people to quit smoking, drinking and to start eating healthy. However, I think as a fair trade, the cost of healthy food should cost less. I bought a small bundle of asparagus last night, and it cost me $3.69, but guess what – I could buy a box of twinkies for $2.00. Give us a break on healthy food options; I believe there will be a lot of support.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  30. david from virginia

    The money's gotta come from somewhere. This would be a two-fer anyway since it would work to reduce alcohol, tobacco and sugar consumption which would save us money on health care in the long run.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  31. Steve

    There has to be and end to taxes being the answer.

    We sin tax everything to the point our working to pay taxes is surpassing our working to live. If everyone stops smoking and drinking we willstill fall short on paying for health care.

    The cost of health care is out of control, we need to find the brakes for that runaway train before we raise more taxes to fuel it.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  32. Cheo Feliciano

    Well according to this report it is not a good idea. Out a $1.5 trillion it will only raise $650 billion which is half of what we need. Not only that but do you really think that we are going to see the same level of purchase of these items with a tax increase. I quit smoking during the last .65 cent increase to cigarettes to pay for illegal alien health insurance. What is next? Tax increase on newspaper as it might give you a heart attack to read stories like this one?

    May 14, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  33. Brian

    Why in the hell does Sen. Chuck Grassley oppose a tax on sugary soda?! It's worse in a lot of ways for obese children than anything else on the list. How is soda not considered "junk food" when it is packed full of unhealthy ingredients and contains NO nutritional value?! I bet if you follow some money, you'll find an answer...

    May 14, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  34. Gene

    Wonderful idea!

    It is time that we place the burden of things on the source of the problem.

    Tobacco should pay for lung cancer and other products pay for the cost that they are placing on the country.

    I say go for it.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  35. Noemi Rivera from Los Angeles

    Jack, forget taxing the consumer. They have gone after the tobacco industry already. The government should go after Ronald McDonald and Anheuser-Busch for selling these unhealthy foods in the first place. Better yet, why don't they tax our paychecks based on our body fax index?

    May 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  36. dave

    Jack,
    Yes, We all know by now that those things are bad for our health so if we continue using something that we know is harmful then you should pay extra.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  37. Eleanora Feucht, Mt. Laurel, N.J.

    Tax away! We will have less cases of lung cancer, diabetes ,alchoholics and may keep the free loaders out of the emergency rooms so that people who are ill through no fault of their own can be treated.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  38. Thomas

    I agree with taxing the donuts, but why double tax the Cops..

    May 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  39. ted

    OH YES! JACK. think about it beyond dollars. if people do not want to smoke, eat junk food, and drink. It will lower the stress on the system plus raise money on those who do still buy. everything on the block is all luxury items. NOt a huge tax but a reasonable one is very very over due.

    Thanks jack.

    Ted, ( AKA = MIddle of the Road BRain)

    May 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  40. Daniel Indiana

    It is time to tax sins other than cigarettes/tobacco products. The taxes for cigarettes just went way up. I'm a non-smoker by three years and agree that they should be taxed, but it is long past time to tax at the same level alcohol. It is a great idea to tax junk foods, including fast foods. There should be a higher tax on gasoline, as well. Also, we should consider adding taxes to gambling operations. I realize that tax is a dirty word, but we pay taxes at the lowest level in our history and our government services are suffering for it. It is time to allow the government to do their job with the proper funding.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  41. Bob D, Morrisown, NJ

    Why shouldn't people who make choices that increase the amount of health care expense they voluntarily cause, pay a greater proportion of the costs.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  42. Murphy

    Jack, who will decide what "sins" can be taxed, and at what rate.

    This is kind of like the SCHIP program for increasing child insurance coverage (currently sin tax funded) ... if people stop smoking and drinking, how will the program(s) continue. If the sin tax results in a decreased consumption of the alleged "sinful products" what happens then: additional increases on taxes on the same products, or do we then look for "lesser sins" for taxes to "reform" health care ... like candy bars and sugar added beverages.

    Where would it end: oxygen and water taxed?

    May 14, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  43. Vinnie Vino

    Jack,

    It sure is we are a nation of over weight people, so tax us fatties to pay for every government program, why stop at healthcare...

    Central Islip, NY

    May 14, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  44. Dan S.

    If it is such a good idea to raise taxes to pay for health care why shouldn't it be raised on something everyone uses so the burden is shared! I would like to see what the out come would be if say we tax toilet paper for instance. If everyone is on board to pay for health care that way then I would vote for it in a heart beat. Jack if you are an honest reporter why don't you do a survey asking that question instead of tryiny to punish some one for doing some thing that you are against? I will be watching for the survey question to appear. But of course I won't be holding my breath!

    Dallas,Texas

    May 14, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  45. DON IN WESTPORT, MASS.

    I cannot believe that this could even be proposed. Go ahead, attach a scarlet letter to any thing you want but where will it end.
    Let's see, we are running out of money again, what else can we call a sin and tax it.
    There is no limit to where this can go to attack our freedoms.
    Wasn't the lottery system supposed to pay for the roads and bridges upkeep in this country.
    Who in this country would be so naive into thinking that extra tax revenue would actually go to health care reform.
    I think my intelligence has been insulted.
    Maybe we should all drink and smoke twice as much so we can make more revenue and reform health care that much quicker. DAH!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  46. Barbara West

    Jack, If it will make our country a lot healthier then I say go for it. People do eat to much junk food, just think in a few years our kids will lost weight and it will not cost us so much for health Ins.
    B West
    Skowhegan Me

    May 14, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  47. Donald in CA

    Yes, tax all that stuff thats killings americans.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  48. Ann

    This is a good idea. We should also prorate health insurance premiums based upon controllable behavior that increases health risks. Smokers, the overweight, alcoholics, substance abusers, felons and those that engage in risky behavior such as skydiving or mountain climbing should pay a surcharge since they are more likely to need medical care. Or those that do not engage in these controllable risks should get a premium discount.

    Endicott, NY

    May 14, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  49. Chad from Los Angeles, CA

    Cigs and Alcohol okay. But they are crazy if they think junk food will get taxed. Can't put fast food out of business. There is a better chance of legalizing and taxing Marijuana!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  50. don (in naples, florida)

    no!!.. the problem with health care is the insurance companies. you can tax all of the vices all you want but in the end you will end up taxing them out of business. go back to the drawing board and think of something else.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  51. Pablo in Tejas

    Jack
    Oh, heck yes! After all isn't it a fine old American custom to tax the sinners to pay for virtuous programs? Tax 'em! Tax 'em all!

    Pablo
    Arlington Texas

    May 14, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  52. Leo

    It'll just be a matter of time before Limbaugh calls this the "fat tax."
    And yes, of course, the tax should be added. None of the aforementioned items could be called necessities by even the most delusional pundit.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  53. Penelope Withers - Amsterdam

    Will we be taxed if we make our own donuts at home? Or maybe get a tax credit if we don't?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  54. Jim Sanjana

    Taxing Cigarettes alcohol and junk food would raise the price of these items and thereby reduce their consumption. This would be good but smuggling would increase especially cigarettes.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  55. Nathan

    No its obnoxious. The right wingers want to legislate our sex lives and the left wingers want to legislate our diet. I am tired of dealing with these two puritanical groups and their respective taboos. The problem with a sin tax is that it punishes everyone for the "sins" of the overindulgent. You want to strike at the heart of the problem and your not squeamish about intruding into peoples private choices to do it? FINE, how about a FAT TAX; charge people for every pound that puts them above their body's level for obesity. It would be obnoxious, dictatorial, and damned effective. We could pay off our national debt before we could shed the pounds.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  56. Jay from Pittsburgh

    The supposed 'sin' taxes have been over done in the last 10 years. Wouldn't it be logical to legalize marijuana and highly tax it? The current illegal trade is phenominal. The savings in police efforts, court time, prison costs and lives would be trimmed greatly. A severe tax and government control could pay off our national debt in a decade.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  57. Pat in Georgia

    Folks seem to be on the band-wagon for taxing "sinners" to pay for everything, but let's hope a little common sense prevails. Congress has already added a 62 cent per pack tax on cigarettes this year to pay for expanding children's health care coverage. You may want to consult with Dr. Gupta, but I'm pretty sure smoking did not cause those kids to be without health insurance. I'm also willing to bet that Americans' beer or soda consumption hasn't been the cause of our problems with our health care system.

    Fixing our health care system is in everyone's interest - so Congress should NOT single out one "sin" or another to pay for it.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  58. Chris

    Most certainly opposed. I am strongly against taxing behavior. If we are going to do that how about taxing stupidity, the first ones to get taxed are the 61% named above. The public is not a bottomless well and the government needs to ubderstand that. While maybe this tax doesnt affect you personally, if we allow them to continue on this path eventually they will tax something near and dear to you. And they just raised tobacco and alcohol taxes. Enough already.

    We were warned about Obama being a tax and spend Democrat and everyone that voted for him said no, he wont raise our taxes. Thats because we only defined it as income taxes. We are too shortsighted.
    Raising taxes doesnt solve the important point that too many programs are being put forth without funding, so new taxes need to be generated. How about eliminating government waste starting with idiotic programs like every single one being presented now!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  59. Dennis north Carolina

    WE should not discriminate against one type of people or one type of product. let us tax everyone equally so every one shares the cost not just a few.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  60. Jay in California

    Absolutely,it would cut down on childhood obesity almost 100 fold. More and more americans would become healthier by eating the right foods and if it takes higher taxes for them to get to the gym and work out,(ask me I know)so be it. We've always been bombarded with sugary goodness all of our lives and it is time to get tough about our health and our lives

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  61. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Taxing cigarettes and alcohol is always the easiest thing to do, when there are other things that contribute to higher health care costs. What about motorcyclists who ride without helmets, people texting/talking on cellphones while driving? How far are the behavior police willing to go?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  62. Brian Sosa

    Legalizing these things would help overtime... But if marajuana was legal not only would the country be out of debt within 1yr the eceonomy would also benefit from it after debt

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  63. Brenda

    Why don't we just tax the obese people by pound overweight. They are just as much a health risk as any smoker or someone who enjoys a drink with dinner.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  64. Jerred T

    Mr. Cafferty,
    I believe that since the majority of health problems stem from the items that are being taxed it makes sense that they are the things being targeted. Since obesity is running rampant, why not tax unhealthy food? If you want to eat things that will give you a heart attack later in life, do so. But I'm not going to pay for your ignorance.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  65. Dick in Minnesota

    Why not make the doctors, nurses and all of the healthcare workers governmental employees, and pay them at the govenmental scale.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  66. mrmiller

    Sounds like a great idea! A perfect sin tax to stop obesity, lung cancer, and Cirrhosis. Kudos to a great idea for solving some of America's problems.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  67. Kay

    If the substance (or behavior) causes increased health costs, it should be taxed. So I say go for it on Cigarettes, Alcohol, Candy Bars, non-nutritious Junk Food, and oh.... lets do Marijuana too. That should raise a bunch of bucks!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  68. Freddie

    Although the objective behind taxing cigs, booze and junk food is just, it's just another way to replenish the funds that are being spent through the stimulus package. It's strategic.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  69. Pedro

    You mean this stuff costs money? Whatever happened to the last administration's fight-wars-while-lowering-taxes tactics that worked out so well for the American people? Lemme go load up on some pre-tax-hike junk food while I ponder this question.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  70. Harris Durrani

    Hey Jack,

    If raising taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and other harmful toxins allows for universal healthcare where every child, adult, old folks can get health insurance than yes i am all up for it. A Healthy nation is far more productive than a nation with bad lungs and bad breath.

    Though i wouldn't like to raise taxes on junk food, i think that would be unwise

    Harris
    Windsor, Ontario

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  71. Russ

    I think that taxing these Items will only be the start of additional taxing. If we let the Government tax the items that they consider to be unhealthy, then all of the Fast Food Restuarants. Next is Burgers, Pizza, Chinese Food ect. Leave my pocket book alone please.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  72. Kevin

    Hey, this is what the libs have been asking for...bigger government, more control of your lives and less individual choice. That is what you wanted isn't it? Be careful what you ask for..because you got the CHANGE you voted for. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the Obama control of your life.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  73. Sean

    Well, if you want to turn your lungs black, destroy your liver, clog your arteries and get diabetes from eating to much then yes we should tax those types of items more. We should divert some percentage of the taxes we put from gasoline around that way too. My views are Social Democratic, and I would not mind more taxes on income

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  74. Jen

    I definitely agree that taxing unhealthy items is a good way to pay for health care reform. These "unhealthy" items actually increase the burden on the health care system (liver damage, lung cancer, heart disease), and thus should contribute to the increased cost that is put on the health care system because of consumption. One reason that people buy unhealthy food is because it is cheaper! Maybe if healthy food is actually put on a more level playing field then people would choose the healthy choice. It is much better than an increase in income taxes! This tax can actually be avoided! - Jen, IL

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  75. Dennis S.

    Not only is taxing items like cigarettes, alcohol, and junk foods a great way to start paying for health care reform, it's also a great way to reform our society! America has a problem, our obsession with unhealthy habits is getting out of control. Maybe by taxing these items, and using the money to pay for health care reform, we actually won't need as much health care because people will buy water instead of soda!
    -Dennis S. Rahway NJ

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  76. todd howman

    yes, I think it is a great idea for the simple fact that it will reward those of us who live healthy lifestyles. Let's face it, that is what it is going to take to get Americans to eat right and take better care of themselves. Just like high gas prices forced people to reconsider their choice of vehicles. todd from ohio

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  77. Rolando DePuy

    Jack I believe if that is the only way to pay for healthcare, so it Should be. I also believe that ALL CHURCHES should be taxed. It is time that their free ride ends. Tax all churches, Tax the homes that have more than two vehicles in front of their homes, tax homes that are poorly kept. That should give a big help fiscally to the goverment, and to the citizens..... Double the taxes of the oil companies.. I promise you the country will do better...

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  78. Lou Cataldo

    jack why not just use the money we already dump into the system, just fix it!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  79. Julie

    No, additional taxes is not acceptable until the government gives smokers other alternatives to kicking the habit – paches and mind altering drugs are not successful – if you're going to tax me at least use my money to find a cure for me a smoker rather than buy everyone else's health insurance

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  80. Mark McIntyre

    Jack,

    Taxes are just that, Taxes. Punishing people for their bad habits via a tax will just leave the politicians looking for other taxable items later.

    We need a system that taxes everybody fairly, period.

    We need a government that can learn how NOT to spend every freaking dime they get!!!

    Mark
    Valley Center, CA

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  81. Mark Mazow

    This is the nanny state run amok. never forget the law of unintended consequences. raising the taxes on these items to generate revenue may make them so expensive that their sales drop enought o reduce their revenue, this making their companies less profitable and putting some of their employees in danger of losing their jobs. legislating behavior and taxing it , sounds reasonable, but prohibition didn't work either.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  82. Karl from SF, CA

    Why not, since they are the cause of most of our health problems and expenses. It may not result in a reduction of their consumption, but it will help toward the cost of treating the health issues they create. If you want to live dangerously, health wise, you have to pay the price. Legalize pot and add it to the list.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  83. Joe in Oregon

    Jack:
    Increasing the so called 'sin' taxes does not solve the problem of consumption and the resultant effects. Invest (one of the presidents key action words) in education and preventative measures to achieve the desired result. A long term 'solution' but certainly more desirable and has the benefit of reducing health care expenses vs. just paying for them.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  84. pat blackwood

    The federal goverment should tax something besides cigarettes, everytime they need money they slap it to the cigarette smokers, Get the money that all these big companies are scaming the goverment out of

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  85. Pat

    It is common knowledge that individuals that abuse their bodies through unhealthy lifestyles contribute disproportionately to our overall health costs. Perhaps the only way to change these habits is to make them too costly to perpetuate.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  86. Brenda - Port St. Lucie, FL

    Jack:

    Do not see any problem with the taxing of Alcohol, Cigarettes or Junk Food. If they tax it enough maybe people will Stop Drinking to get Drunk, Stop Smoking and Obesity in the young and lovers of Junk Food. The Country would be alot healthier and Medical Costs would be lower. The Country needs to get Healthier to cut down on Medical Expenses. I say go for it. Make Americans more healthy.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  87. Cliff Brown

    Sure Jack, as long as they also tax bottled water, high-priced diet foods, health clubs, lattes and all those other thing that poor people cannot afford. while we're at it, let also reduce the airline ticket cost those skinny people that don't quite take up a full seat.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  88. Austin

    I agreee that taxing these health sins would be a great means of raising revenue. The only one I'm guilty of partaking in is soda and other sweets, but I'm also very athletic often working out almost every day. So why not provide tax breaks every time someone hits the gym. Our exorbinant health care costs have as much to do with people not getting off the couch as sitting there eating unhealthy food and drink.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  89. Justin

    More taxes woohooo!!! How about restructuring health care to cut out all the waste and corruption.. Last time I checked, this is America and we have the right to live the way we want.. The day the Gov killed off the Shamans they took responsibility for our health.. What happens when everyone quits drinking and smoking, no more taxes right? Then where will our health care system be? Fire everyone and start over!!!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  90. JustMe

    Here is the thing about taxing junk foods. I don't want the government defining which foods are junk foods because in my opinion some ingredients in foods/drinks that some deem more healthy, I say it's more dangerous! Such as Aspartame and Sucralose among others. I have done the research so while that is debatable, that's just it, I don't want the government to be the jury on this one!
    JustMe in North Carolina

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  91. Janelle in Missouri

    Hey Jack,

    I'm all for sin taxes to pay for health care reform, just be sure to tax the sins I don't commit, not the ones I do.

    Seriously, if taxes are to fund health care reform, let's start by taxing the campaign contributions made by the insurance companies and drug companies.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  92. Judith Gabriel

    Jack,

    Absolutely! These are non-essentials and if you really need to have them, then you'll budget them. Otherwise you will not buy them and this will benefit your health. I used to smoke but found it too expensive and quit. I drink alchohol and if I want to continue my wine with my dinner, then I'll pay for it because it is a pleasure and I'll find a way unless I can't. Then I'll quit that as well.

    For sewing your pockets shut, we Americans forget that as in any budget, it is a trade-off. Want health care? Well, you may have to give up your twinkies. A heart for a drink? It's not a choice. Tax the hell out of this stuff, who cares.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  93. Lois, Ont., Canada

    Yes! We just came home from holidaying in the Rio Grande Valley in TX. We paid $7.59 for a 4 litre jug of 'Carlo Rossi ' California wine. Here is cost approx. $1l.00 for a one litre bottle. We don't mind paying all that tax here as we have excellent Health Care Benefits. I had open heart surger & it didn't cost us one pennny.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  94. Mike

    Overall, all these high taxes are a bad idea as always. They will start will unhealthy foods and end with all the foods.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  95. andrew

    I try to lead a clean and healthy lifestyle, but my healthcare premium is still through the roof because I am stuck having to pay for people who recklessly destroy their bodies. On top of that, second hand smoke increases my likelihood of ending up in the hospital. Those that smoke should have to pay for the harm they do not only to themselves, but to others.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  96. Boyd, Reedsburg, WI

    What makes health care so expensive is the huge profits that insurance companies, care providers, and medical suppliers have enjoyed for decades and decades. Skyscrapers aren't cheap. "Sin taxes" only transfer addictions from individuals to the federal government. We need to address the core problem here, namely the immense profits that are made off people's misfortunes. Increasing taxes will only continue to preserve these thieves' massive haul.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  97. Reg

    This sounds like a Republican talking point. When it comes to remaking this country and making smart advancements Jack, we have no choice but to figure out how to pay for it, and it won't all be easy sledding.have. We will have to make tough choices. It starts with choosing to grow up as a nation, stop our whining, roll up our sleeves and get to work. Just do it for the children...they'd do it for us.

    Reg

    Atlanta Ga

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  98. Jim Smith Indiana

    Jack,
    I think it is a great idea to raise taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and junk food to pay for health care. But I think it will be a cold day in hell when politicans raise the tax on alcohol.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  99. Thomas Cargo

    Jack i an here with a soulution!! How about taxing all the illegal immagrants who steal american jobs yet pay no income tax!!! How about rich people and big buisness who hide money off shore to escape paying income tax!! More money for beer that is un american geez enough already!!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  100. Ike

    Sin taxes should be considered as one income source however, cigarette taxes have increased more than 100 fold in federal and state governments, I always wonder why increasing taxes on alcohol has been the avoided holy grail by Congress. It is politically acceptable to tax many of the lowest income folks while upper income, alcohol consuming politicians protect this particular 'sin'. Taxing junk food should be the first considered, however food lobbyists and overweight people will fight this which flies in the face of reforming health care with health care prevention. More political hypocrisy, putting politics over people.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  101. Toni H

    Greetings Jack,
    I think its a great idea. Unfortunately, people do not like being told what to do and this is basically saying, stop smoking and eating junk food. How tragic, we might live longer ,spare ourselves heart disease and lose some weight ,and even have a little extra cash with the money saved ( especially from not buying cigarettes)!
    Oh, the audacity of health.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  102. Jim Blevins

    Absolutely not. While there is every attempt to hide the fact, total cost of health care for smokers is less than for non-smokers, because smokers have a much shorter lifespan. If anything, smokers should get a discount. I am sure that the same facts apply to other life-shortening behaviours. When I hear the sort of money that the financial types that caused the recession were getting - the best source of funding is obvious.

    Jim, Craig, CO

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  103. HD in Phoenix, AZ

    Jack,

    They can tax the hell out of cigarettes and alcohol for all I care. Just quit taxing my income. The federal government has been fleecing the incomes of the middle class since Ronald Reagan and it has only gotten worse. Ronald Reagan and George Bush Jr both created income taxation conditions which favored the rich and wealthy over the rest of us. Yea…they can tax cigarettes and alcohol all they want!

    HD in Phoenix, AZ

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  104. Michael

    Perhaps we could redirect the billions of dollars we spend around the world killing people to take care of our own and maybe even have some left to assist countries that are in desperate need of life sustaining support!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  105. Tim

    The cost of treating the illnesses that use of these items cause does drive up the cost of health care for the rest of us, so taxing them to help pay for it does seem fair. What bothers me about this however, is that these type of taxes impact lower income people harder than the wealthy, and that seems to go against what Obama promised us to get our votes.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  106. Sonny

    Of course we should tax these items. These are some of the main items that are killing us and driving up costs for us all.

    Houston Rockets!!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  107. heather

    ABSOLUTELY!!!
    Anyone who can afford to pay for vices such as alcohol and cigarettes shouldn't complain about the lack of affordable healthcare coverage. I say tax all that stuff.. and lower taxes on healthy items.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  108. Al Falk

    More taxes on Cigarettes ? Relying on this tax, which is offered tongue-in-cheek as a way to reduce usage , if it works, leaves the budget short when and if the strategy works.
    I believe that it is fundamentally Un-American to single out a class of people for specific taxation.
    No more cigarette taxes ! Go to the old stand-by; Tax gasoline another $3.00 per gallon. See how that flies.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  109. Dave

    How is Obama cutting taxes for the middle class with these new proposed taxes as well as his cap and trade? He's taking more money out of our pockets. It hurts the middle and lower income individuals . I voted for him and I'm really beginning to regret it....

    May 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  110. Oregon Wally Las Vegas Nevada

    There all ready taxing these things, Our government taxes every thing i do, over and over again....Living off the grid is becoming very popular, think I'll give it a try....

    May 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  111. Jan

    So now the government will start a new minority to single out, all the smokers, drinkers and junk food addicts! So they have to pay for health care reform, well instead how about taxing the makers of these things that are now deemed bad for you, they weren't bad several years ago! Take it to the makers of these products, not the people that they addicted !

    May 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  112. BIRCHALL

    These items should DEFINITELY be taxed as the consequences of using/digesting them accounts for most of the long-term medical costs incurred when treating diabetes, heart & lung diseases & the other resulting medical disorders. I speak from experience as my husband has diabetes now controled through diet, exercise & vitamins but without shots or pills. Due to a congenital defect in my pancreas, I can not drink alcohol or eat more than 4 grams of fat per meal & I have other dietary limitations. It can be done, but we humans have to be forced to take care of our bodies.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  113. Aaron

    Jack, how much should we pay?
    Here in Mass we pay over $7 a pack, thats $70 a carton(10 packs).

    May 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  114. anthony.....NJ

    I ask you, Jack, why are only some legal products, such as alcohol, liquor and cigarettes taxed to the hilt? Hmmmm, could it be because users consider them indepensible? A vice tax is based on morality which has no basis in a pure democracy. This taxation is merely subjective and inherently unconstitutional.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  115. William A. Wetzel

    I am a member of Tax Revolt 2009 in California. A REAL TEA PARTY! Once we shoot down propositions 1A through 1F and complete some of the recalls associated with it... I will turn my attention to the Federal Government and all of it's associated unions that want to bleed us dry. Taxes on Alcohol, cigarettes, junk food, etc. is nothing more than a poor tax. Guess what? There's too many of us for that to fly without political consequences.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  116. Eddy

    I think it is a very good way to pay for health care, it is a MAJOR problem in this country a country that is supposed to lead the world in this matter. If it is needed to tax unhealthy items for the greater good then so be it. Obesity is high, alcohol is rampant and although cigarette use has been decreasing it has done so as a result of high prices on them. Health care should be number one...

    Corona
    California

    May 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  117. Tom

    Haven't we already made cigarette smokers and alcohol drinkers pay many times more than their share by now? What happened to making the rich pay their share? Have we abandoned that? Here's a novel idea. How about people paying their own share of the costs instead of trying to push the burden on somebody else all the time?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  118. Tammy Davis

    Yes, I think the taxes would work, I quit smoking 10 years ago thanks to new taxes on cigarettes. If the government taxes sodas and other stuff i need to give up it just might make me healthier.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  119. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Jack,

    I would not call this a sin tax...I would call it an unhealthy tax and a healthy tax break for healthy choices made to bring people and businesses to be serious about changing in order to reduce the overall costs of healthcare!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  120. Derek Caselli

    I don't smoke and never have, but I think cigarette taxes have reached a coercive level. People have a right to smoke if they so choose, but when tax rates on cigarettes approach 100% of the cost of the item that freedom is significantly compromised. These taxes simply exploit a minority that is frequently insulted and demonized in anti-tobacco campaigns. If the country needs money, let's just be honest and raise taxes.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  121. Ian minneapolis, MN

    Jack,
    I do think it is a good idea to tax smokes, snacks, and alcohol, but I think we need to reform the entire insurance system first. As a mental health biller who deals with insurance companies dailey, I think the snakes who run these companies need to be stopped. They do whatever they can to not pay, literally everything, and it's disgusting that no one can do anything about it. Let's face it, insurance is one of the biggest scams EVER!!!
    Ian, Minneapolis, MN

    May 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  122. peakarach

    This is only just the beginning of more taxs to come in the next 4 yrs or 8 yrs of Barack Hussein Obama admistration. hahahaha!!!!!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  123. Marietta

    Cannot come to Canada for cigar....$10.00 dollars a package..so what...not good either for your health and we have good Health Care.....nothing is free-and health Care is for you and I...we reap what we pay for....

    May 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  124. Eric

    Yeah, let's tax everything "we" don't like, and build huge bureaucracies and programs based on those dollars that create more dependents/voters for us! And if people quit using those products, or engaging in that taxable behavior, we'll tax someone else to pay for those programs and government workers. And, if anyone complains about us taxing them to death, we'll put their names on government lists, so we can have our bureaucrats persecute them and their families until they become compliant. Yeah! I'm king of the world! All bow down and worship me! You know, running all these televisions releases a LOT of carbon in the air. How about a cap on salaries for people who make their livings in the entertainment and news industries of, say $50K, and levy a 90% tax on every dollar they earn above that level?
    Down with money, except for the dollars we send to Washington!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  125. Rosemary in Missouri

    I simply cannot understand the thinking of politicians...if sin taxes make the buying of alcohol and tobacco too expensive for people to indulge in how will they pay for health care without the sin taxes. Even an alcoholic can run out of ways to get money for booze eventually. Of course he'll be a healthier alcoholic I suppose.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  126. Paul in Las Vegas, NV

    Interesting that those who want to tax "sin items" such as tobacco, alchohol and fat laden, sugar-filled foods are the same ones who decry raising taxes because they will "adversely affect the low-income communities" when it is those same consumers who purchase the most "sin items."

    Ah, ya gotta love the common-sense thinking of politicians!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  127. Joe Sais in Mission Viejo

    NO BRAINER, JACK! What makes us more vulnerable to disease? TOBACCO, ALCOHOL, & JUNK FOOD!! If people voluntarily consume any of the big three they should help pay for the increased cost of health care caused by them getting cancers, diabetes, etc., etc.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  128. Dominic Gardunio

    Jack, Congress should tax cigarettes and alcohol. If they do tax cigarettes the young people won't be able to buy them, and we will see a drop of young smokers. Next, the question is this "How will junk food help pay for health care reform." Yes, many people will have to eat healthly, and obesity could be lower and the U.S. won't be the fattest nation. So the only thing is to tax CIGARETTES AND ALCOHOL.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  129. tiffany

    they took away our hours then they took away our jobs, now they want to take away our cigs and drinks too! that's all I can afford!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  130. Jeane Bruning

    I wouldn't mind paying a little more taxes to pay down the national debt right now.
    However, the danger in that path is once taxes are in place.
    Taxes not only tend to go up but to never go away.

    Wouldn't it be great if taxes could have expiration dates placed on them?

    My Opinion: What about the health care reform make the health care system be set up to be self-supporting.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  131. Randall

    Jack, a wider-based tax snagger is always good. Spreads the pain among the many. But you fail to consider the 4th huge revenue addition to the list of taxables, although it doesn't currently enjoy the greatest of status in govt. eyes. By the time this bill passes though, the additional source will probably be on it, if the winds of common sense have anything to do with it. And, to be a little clearer than Pelosi was earlier today, I wasn't referring to Cheerios either.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  132. mary

    issue will be confused in texas because junk food and soda are the most frequent items purchased with the "lone star" card.. (food stamps) and tax exempt (sales tax) for those using the card..so once again the idea hits mainly the "middle class American" something else to patriotically accept??

    May 14, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  133. Barb from , Mich

    Hey Jack, instead of increasing the taxes on the "sinners" in the country, how about a federal lottery. Take the administrative cost of the lottery off the top and split the profit. Half would go to health reform and the rest paid out in winnings. At least it would be fair and anyone one who wanted to buy a chance to get rich quick could do so willingly.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  134. JG

    No. We don't need any more taxes. And what I do with my body is my choice, not yours. I already pay a higher premium on my health benefits because of my age, etc. And I'm sure a great deal of us who have health insurance do get banged because of our lifestyles.

    The first order of business is to redefine health care. There's no such thing; it's really the health business, whereas my experience shows that every provider I've ever had in the last 25 years has fought me tooth and nail over every thing I've ever claimed, all for the sake of the corporate bottom line.

    Taxing everything considered "unhealthy" is just another way for the feds to try to pay for folks who don't have health care. Too bad for them.

    Tax the hell out of violent video games, guns, bullets, knives, violent comic books, violent movies, and such. Or better yet, define "unhealthy".

    May 14, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  135. Zack

    Jack, If i knew that buying a apple would help to pay for health care for those who cant afford it i would definably do it, and hey! maybe i would be healthy! but i know what the rest of America would think "there poor for a reasons, get me some donuts!" then a year later they find them self sick and not able to afford there health bills because they lost there high paying jobs. Don't you wish you bought that apple know? What i am saying is, if it was on health foods more people would hopefully buy it and be maybe even be healthily! but no they put it on junk food, so know people can feel good about causing harm to them selfs?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  136. Stephen

    Just what the poor need more taxes on beer wine booze, while I do not smoke how much tax is enough. These kind of taxes hurt poor folks the most. They are not fair taxes. One person so called sin tax is anothers only enjoyment in life. All I need now since I am unemployed is higher taxes on beer and soda. just great. next they will tax my air I breath, because they already tax my water I drink and the electricity I use. I am all for health care, but I rather pay for that directly than indirectly, because we all know what happens to this kind of money it gets misused. Look at all the times the government has raided Social Security. Its really sad.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  137. Rich from Wisconsin

    These are sin taxes, all the time sin taxes. How about greed taxes. Taxes on the health industry zillionares who charge $611 dollars for a quarter mile trip to the hospital and will stop at nothing to abort a change in health care policy. It is a crime for companies like United Health Care and all the others who care nothing about any individual and only about how much money they can make off of that individual. Thats where the money is.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  138. Dan - Eustis, florida

    Why is it that taxing us common folk is always the answer to funding
    Government projects. Lets face facts, until the rich HMO s and pharmacutical companies are reeled in by our government nothing will
    change. Most of our elected politicians are on the payroll of the Health
    Care industry through Lobbyists. Until we vote out these thieves nothing
    will change. The only reason Politicians rail against Government Health
    Care isn't because of fears of big Government. Its because their Benefactors, the Health Care big shots don't want It.It would cut into their
    obscene profits.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  139. Ronald Holst

    Jack Yes It Is a very good way As long as they cover all food drinks and cigarettes and cigar and pipe chewing tobacco . So No one can cry that they are Bing discriminated against .Yes Jack It Is not only a good way but one the the best Ides that I have head as far as health care it not only helps pays for health care it also will cut down on the use of these things witch in it self will help with health issues .
    Ronald Holst
    San Antonio, TX.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  140. Korry

    Not only is using the tax code to influence behavior unconstitutional. Relying on these revenues to provide healthcare financing is self-defeating. The increase in taxes will result in an increase in unemployment in those industries and ultimately a decreae in consumption of those products. Ultimately, the revenue predicted will could not be sustained without higher taxes. And the cycle will continue.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  141. Tom Cohen

    Taxing junk food, cigarettes and alcohol is the only way to assign the true cost of the damage these products cause to the health of Americans. This is exactly the "out of the box" thinking that we need to fix the broken health care system.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  142. Roo

    It makes perfect sense! Pay for a health care system that could work for all americans, address the rising cost of healthcare, and pay down the debt. I'll pay a little extra for my vices so somebody else's child can grow up with affordable Healthcare.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  143. Zed

    Sin tax is gutless. It implies we tax the 'sinners' because we do not have the fortitude to tax the producers on the front end. That’s just bad business I guess. I have a donut a couple times a year, buy some for the crew occasionally, smoke an occasional cigar and enjoy a glass of wine on occasion. Key word: OCCASIONALLY!

    Why not have a glutton tax and just tax the mass consumers that have no handle on their personal control knob. And while we’re at it, let us give rebates for exercise, trim waists and overall good health. Reward those who earn it and charge those who do not. In the mean time, would you like to discuss my program to tax citizens for the clean air provided for breathing, there is a lot of health care money in it!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  144. Anupa

    Well Yes... If the tax motivates people to make healthy choices, that would double the advantage. Increase in revenue and lower insurance costs because of improvement in health of general population. It is a great idea in theory. The only question is where do we draw the line. Should we tax McDonald's supersize meals? twinkies? what about foods containing partially hydrogenated fats? There is no end to the list. My vote is to tax everything that is not in its natural form -all junk food, all foods containing additives, preservatives, and artificial flavors and colors!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  145. Steve Larkin

    Healthcare should be equally shared, since the benefit would not be restricted by what products you may consume, how is it fair to charge only those whom use certain products. Oklahoma taxed tobacoo users for the funding of healthcare that is only accessable to some of the people, even of which will not share in the cost. So you have Oklahoman's paying for health care they will not recieve. and people recieving healthcare whom will never share in the cost. I believe in equal across the board, non-descrimminate taxation.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  146. Art Hasbrook

    Personally I believe general health care should be philanthropic and not a political mandate. If there is a general health care added then: Yes, Yes, Yes, and a few more should be taxed too. Here in Michigan there is a serious amount of booze consumed, but it's not easy to fight the masses of lobbyist keeping down the alcohol taxes.

    Our low and high income brackets are too far spread and health care is not fairly available. Consumerism is fine for a goods based market but not human necessities such as this. Poor health is going to add more cost, so education should be on the forefront of reform. There need to be more efficient forms of health care also. And corporate licensing fess / tariffs for these unhealthy products could go up to balance out the costs as well.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  147. debinaz

    lets see less tax on the middle class was it? this congress has gone straight for the middle class.... most of your smokers are going to be poor or in the middle class....the rich if they smoke probably could care less how much it costs.....but to go after the beverage industry is so uncalled for.....what this government is going to do is force some of these companies out of business....we need affordable health care, not government healthcare....government is the problem and not the solution......

    May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  148. Flyingwolf, Manchester NH

    Jack, yes. Tax booze, butts and junk food. Tax anything bought from a fast food joint because that's bad for you too. I fought back Type 2 diabetes, high chloresterol, and high blood pressure, just by sticking to a high fiber diet (mainly because I'm allergic to most of the chemicals doctors wanted to push on me). Maybe these taxes should be considered "luxury" taxes instead of "sin" taxes because eating fast food and easy snacks and having a smoke or a drink should be considered a "luxury." More Americans can be shamed out of indulging in "luxuries" that are a detriment to their health and sound anti-American anyway rather than "sins" that can be washed away by confessions or other religious rituals.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  149. Jennie Padilla

    Taxing cigarettes, alcohol and junk foods to fund health care is a great idea. As a result of consuming these products many individuals later have serious health conditions which require expensive medical attention and this tax makes them pay up front for these costs. There should be a extra tax on junk fast-food! American obesity is off the charts. If we have the free will to make unhealthy choices we should have to pay for them. Meanwhile those who make healthy choices will NOT have to pay. This tax puts the responsibility where it belongs and perhaps could also fund public health campaigns to inform the public on the causes of heart attacks, diabetes and strokes. Similar to the "good driver" auto insurance how about a "good choices" health insurance rate adjustment?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  150. j. miller

    Yes, it is OK to tax alcohol,cigarettes and junk foods to help pay for health care, because we will also be cutting health costs (and saving lives) because a lot of people will give up some of the major causes for heart disease, cancer. etc. A two for one.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  151. Michael

    It's time to tax political contributions.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  152. Tom

    Why re-invent the wheel? We already have a bottomless source of funding that has never protested an additional financial burden – our future generations. Heaven forbid that people would start paying for their own government services.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  153. Dr Carrie

    Taxing Alcohol & Cigarettes is unspeakable, only to get back the money that was dole out like candy, what is next I ask? “Tax the Americans for driving to a ballgame”? Come-on face it, the politicians are only trying covering up for the money that was dispensed to the banks and Wall Street?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  154. Veronica Reno, NV

    I've always felt that the cost of health insurance should be based on a scale...the healthier you are, the cheaper your insurance is. So to me, taxing the "bad" stuff makes perfect sense too. Anyway, an apple SHOULD be cheaper than a dozen donuts.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  155. David P. Vernon

    Tucson, AZ – In a word, no. Sin taxes will suppress sin, and over time will yield less revenue as people behave more healthfully. Most "experts" have not thought this whole thing through:

    1) preventative care is much more economic than acute care – switching from a disease cure to a health maintenance paradigm will save an incalculable number of dollars. That is why health care in Cuba costs that country less while giving better results in infant mortality, perinatal female mortality, and morbidity from "life style" illnesses.
    2) the present system wastes hundreds of millions in various nooks and crannies – malpractice, information errors, uneven eligibilities, overbuilt hospitals, underused diagnostic equipment, etc. Universal coverage and Federal standards will reduce or eliminate much of this cost.
    3) most people spend 60% of lifetime medical costs during the last six months of their lives, on futile death defying treatments in the face 0f a totally negative prognosis. Nobody knows how much money would be saved by making people comfortable while they die instead of spending a fortune trying to extend their lives a few days, weeks, or months. Just dying in a hospice instead of a hospital saves hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient.

    The bottom line is that true health care reform will make health care in America cheaper, not more expensive, but nobody knows exactly how much.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  156. OBDAG in Appleton, WI

    Jack, I have to admit that I am in total support of "sin-taxes" as a way to fund medical plans currently being considered. In my case the increase in the state sin tax itax on tobacco was the single thing that finally helped cause me to quit smoking . Due to that increase my life has changed considerably and if what I read is accurate its also made me healthier. With that in mind I support this idea of imposing sin taxes to finance healthcare reform its fine with me. Let's do this and be quick about it – preferably before the end of the year. Now if they would help tax the food that makes me overweight I'll really get healthy..After saying that how many people agree with my thoughts?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  157. Kerry Diehl

    Obama’s “health care reform” will be the financial undoing of our country!

    These taxable items you mention will not even provide sufficient funds to purchase the required rectal thermometers needed for his program.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  158. Bill from pa

    No, although I don't know a better way, the addictve iems are already outrageously overtaxed. Maybe the government could pursue repayment for the profiteering and over charging in that illegal and immoral war we were coerced and lied into. That would probably erase the national debt and pay for every existing public program going. Especially if they could recoup all the taxes from the corporations that moved thier hdqs. offshore to evade them.

    n

    May 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  159. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I agree that the taxes should be raised on tabacco products in all forms. I don't like raising the taxes on alcohol, but it could be a small portion of that. If we can steer people to have the healtier things, that should be done; with taxes if necessary.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  160. tony

    Brilliant idea!! Triple the tax! Eventually the smokers/drinkers will abandon the habit! By the way Jack you must be a republic. What up with your comment to wolfe that he should "keep in mind?". FYI obama is doing a great job in trying to clean up the mess!! Don't hate!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  161. Jay R

    It may be time to separate "sin" from vice or habit; such scapegoat politics.
    Legalize and regulate prostitution and gambling, tax them, and that may be closer to a sin tax.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  162. Pat from Florida

    Wow, as if the government hadn't already stepped over the line on privacy and choice. Now they are going to put me on a diet? In a free society do we not permit people to make decisions about their own health? I am exhausted with the government's attempt to tax and regulate everything. I feel like suffocated. Oh and P.S. – Health care is not a right it is a luxury.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  163. Eugene Balsmeier

    Yes – It is about time that we held people accountable for their life style choices. This is nothing new and the life insurance business has been doing this for years. Just try buying a life insurance policy and telling them that you are a rock climber, scuba diver, sky diver, private pilot, etc...

    This industry figured out that it was unfair to ask other policy holders to subsidize high risk behavior and as a result require the risk taker to pay the increased premium. People need to quit taking their stupid pills and recognize that not taxing people for poor lifestyle choices is by default putting a subsudy tax on those of us that lead a healthier and less risky life style.

    Gene in Idaho

    May 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  164. Ken-Long Island

    Absolutely! Not only should we tax cigarettes, alcohol and junk food, but also foods which contain unhealthy food additives. But why stop there? Why not higher premiums for those who are overweight and who smoke? If people truly want universal health care they should be willing to pay for it with a healthier life style? I certainly don't want Rush Limbaugh to pay for it. It makes me sick just thinking about it.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  165. John from Michigan

    On April 1st of this year there was a 2159% increase on the federal excise tax on a pound of tobacco used by people who roll their own. I would be willing to bet there aren't many if any people making over $200K a year who roll their own cigarettes. So who was this a tax on? Just the people who were promised that they wouldn't see any increase in taxes. This is just another way the politicians hike and/or hide taxes on what is seen as an insignificant number of voters who won't have a dramatic impact their future political careers.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  166. Mfpdx

    To those who are hot and bothered just thinking about this, what will we do when you get your way and all those horrid people with those bad habits quit? How many businesses will go under when pop, cig. and beer can not longer find enough buyers? Who will replace THOSE tax dollars and those jobs? Ever even thought about it? How long will it be before the government decides they don't like YOUR habits; things such as bungee-jumping or skiing or driving on the road, or a myraid of other "sins" they can come up with because they're "dangerous"?

    Or when the funds disappear due to lack of "bad habits".....

    Bet you'll sing a different tune when there are NO funds because everyone stopped drinking pop, smoking, and buying beer?! Can't WAIT to see that!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  167. Steve Johnson

    Jack ,
    I'm going to let you in on a secret, If you want to know how are tax system works here's a perfect example. Instead of restoring the top 1%'s Taxes to what they were or raising it even higher, our wonderful elected body of congress would rather dump the burden on those who it's supposed to help. the poor and middle class usually can't afford healthy food so they settle for they can. I don't think the wealthy have any concerns/stress about life so why would they be driven to smoke or drink. How many times will the people just stand idle while were literally being pick pocketed by the wealthy. I think it's time for a small revolution just to let the rich know who built this country and who truly runs it.

    P.S. How much money was lost in Bush's Closed Door Energy Policy? That could probably pay for a lot.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  168. Gary Webster

    This is another terrible idea. We can not keep taxing the poor that is not the answer to any of our many problems. If we must add a tax how about a 1% tax added on anything that is purchased here that was made outside of the USA?
    Gary
    New Port Richey,Florida

    May 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  169. Charles, Los Angeles, CA

    By all means, Jack! Hit up the already-busted where they live. Congress’ answer to every budgetary problem. Smokers are already paying for SCHIP. I guess we’ll be paying for healthcare for adults too. Not that I’ll any longer be paying for everyone else, since not even Congress can extract blood from a turnip. How about taxing steak and lobster, two items that also kill people, but which I already can’t afford?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  170. glen fina

    yuo bet jack. look, unhealthy behavior is at the heart of the problem. no money is in prevention, but big bucks are in heroic procedures and surgeries to fix hearts, cancers, kidneys etc. The current way to get the best coverage is through a big corporate job. This gives corporations a lot of leverage on their employees. Also why there is such resistance to health care reform. So, keep us fat, out of shape, eating crap, smoking and drinking, coining phrases like "health nut" keep us taking pills to keep us dependant on the job with the insurance. Add in barriers to education for all and the underpinnings are all in place for the perpetuation of the "old boy network" which President Obasma is dismanteling piece by piece. This is what the GOP (grumpy, old and pathetic) really fears. Once it is what you know and not who you know this country will truly begin to live up to its ideals. Yeah, tax them for bad behavior, that will in the interim help defray the costs these unhealthy idiots impose on those of us who eat right, exercise and do not smoke.

    Glen

    May 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  171. walter collins

    The good mixed bag as we tax those items not good for health. The 600 billion estimated to be raised is unlikely. Because the current subscribers to junk and unhealthy foods and snacks will have a substantial group of fruit, carrot, celery and salad converts – the projected revenues will shrink. However the administrations health plan goals of adjusting behavior to preventative from reactionary will get a boost. WALTER COLLINS – PHILADELPHIA

    May 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  172. Dave

    Wouldn't taxing things that people earning less then 250,000 dollars
    Use the most be the same as taxing them??

    May 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  173. James Briner

    Taxes,recession, unemployment, familes now living on the streets of America. What does this have to do with healthcare? Tobacco kills at least 400,000 Americans and alcohol kills, not only individuals who drink but also the many Americans who are killed by crime, auto accidents ect...
    Let's make tobacco a class one narcotic and agent orange the farms it grows on. Twinkies, soda, tax the heck out of them also. It seems that two many young Americans are growing up with out eating the five major food groups. Does anyone in your neighborhood know what they are?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  174. Maggie, Minnesota

    No more taxes on anything. Republicans did warn all who wanted to vote for Obama that this is what would be coming but no one wanted to listen to the truth...................just wanted to cheer when hearing the word "change". This isn't the end of them finding more taxes so if you think you are someone who isn't going to get hit, look out, it is coming.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  175. Vince -Kona HI

    Aloha Jack,

    It makes sense. Tobacco products kill up to 400,000 annually. I am not sure how many are sickened. Alcohol costs society lives of the drunk and their victims. Who know how many are injured by junk food? We are already paying for another's choice of drugs. It is their choice. Let them pay their share.

    Vince, Kona HI

    May 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  176. F. Tambe

    Yeah Jack,
    isn't this another way of targetting the poor, the under educated and the under privilaged ?
    They are the only ones who are more likely to smoke, eat junk food, and drink alcohol.
    what about taxing extravagant life style, like private jets, personal yatches, multiple and expensive foreign cars and multiple unnecessary large mansions.
    Thanks for caring law markers.
    we will vote you out and that is a promise

    May 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  177. Mark

    I am a 46-year-old man who chooses to lead a healthy life. I drink a little, but I choose not to eat junk food, smoke, drink soda, or anything with high sugar content. However, my healthcare premiums reflect the poor choices of other Americans. Why should I have to pay for bad choices? Absolutely, tax the hell out of what we KNOW is unhealthy to pay for healthcare reform. Cost has been proven to help people make better decisions. I believe we should do whatever it takes to get this country healthy. Why not improve our healthcare system at the same time?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  178. Karen Ross

    Americans are already paying a sin tax in the form of grants to study how best to advise prostitutes in foreign countries about the dangers of drinking as regards to contracting aids – all in the name of protecting their foreign customers! This was reported last night on Lou Dobbs. Perhaps the millions spent on this study should be spent instead on healthcare for Americans.

    Karen Ross
    West Union, SC

    May 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  179. Sherry

    Tax on bad behavior is a great idea. Right now, healthy foods cost more than unhealthy foods. (ex. organic foods or those with healthier ingredients) . Unhealthy living drains the health care system, so it seems very fair to pay a penalty for for such behavior.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  180. Justin

    Oh yeah, people have to get over this living forever thing... Think about this health food junkies, when everyone starts eating good food it's going to drive the cost of your fruit and veggies through the roof.. You will be paying the tax then.. Take the crooks out of the process and actually put some research into cures not crutches, but cures aren't good for business.. Let's not forget the Insurance companies, why do we need a middle man anyway??? They just want you to get in a routine of repeat visits to the Doc, more pay for them.. The Gov doesn't want to change anything. Just like Pelosi, it's a joke..

    May 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  181. Anna

    Taxing bad behavior will not bring cost of health care down as long as doctors want to make money, hospitals want to make money and the only good paying jobs are in healthcare industry.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  182. Tony IL

    Jack,
    America has become the nation of fatness. I see no problem with taxing things that are (sins) to our bodies. If that is what it takes to get America to shed the pounds, then so be it. America should join "The Biggest Loser" and become the nation of fitness.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  183. James Stone

    Yes Jack, I think that is a good Idea to have higher "sin" taxes to fund health care reform. I have recently joined the ranks of the millions of people who have to live with type 2 diabetes. To have to live this. I found it has it's own cost for maintenance. With all the money put through the Stimilus, I cannot see a more reasonable alterrnative.

    James

    Saint George, Utah

    May 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  184. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Jack I have another idea how about the Government cuts spending, that way they do not need to keep raising taxes?
    On the other hand we will have donut pushers out there making money selling untaxed donuts like the organized crime gangs selling drugs and cigarettes.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  185. DonDego

    If the burden is to be passed on to all of America tax water. I already pay higher premiums cause I smoke now Jam being double billed.and the uninsured children are not because we smoke or drink. Its because health care is to costly. Insurance companies don't care about the public good, they care about their investors. The government is failing us as well. How do you bypass the public to jump start the economy. And give the money to the banks. If I had received the money the banks would have gotten it from me my credit would be good and I would spend more to jump start the economy.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  186. Susan

    If they want to tax Alcohol, Cigarettes, Junk Food; then they should also put a heavy tax of some items that may create a heavy Medical cost in the future........such as........Breast Implants, Elective Cosmetic Surgery, Tatoos, Elective C-Section Early Baby Delivery......that is just a few.....sure that there are many more.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  187. Marilyn from Oklahoma

    I would like to know that health care reform consists of before I consider ways to pay for it.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  188. S Callahan NYS Nano Capital of the World

    Those of us in NYS already have been subjected to these so called 'sin' taxes so adding on more from the Fed. govt. would constitute 'over taxation'. Stop pleasing and making deals with the Health care companies. Instead lower their allowable costs/charges to the consumer (not maintain their current rates) so it'll all work out to the benifit of the citizens and the government. In the ideal world, Free enterprise should have a moral conscience to regulate itself.....and reign in on greed.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  189. Tommy

    Only reason we live is

    . go to a job (layoff)
    . stay home (foreclosed)
    . smoke/drink (taxed)
    . eat something taste :(

    guess we should move to Africa

    May 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  190. Richard Pratt.

    I do believe it's tremendous way because if you think about it, the folks who consume these items are more likely to become sick either from liver disease, and lung cancer. Not to talk of our nation being the most obese nation in the world. These are all bad habits that can be avoided. Taxing these items will sure make a difference not only for health care reform, but also help people live healthier lives.

    Atlanta, GA

    May 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  191. Leslie

    Jack, I do not have a issue with hgher taxes on smokes and junk food. But if they are going to tax the consumer more they should absolutley put a higher tax the producer of these life killing products. I mean maybe the fast food chains will actually produce real food. instead of the addictive artery cloging slop that is killing our kids. That would be real health care reform

    May 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  192. K

    The health care system needs to be fixed. I am all in favor of huge taxes on alcohol and cigarettes since these are proven to jeopardize health and well being.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  193. Rod Bris

    The Health care system are price gouging predators. No different than the crooks selling $100.00 ice after a hurricane, except the crooks ice would be cheeper. According to my last bill, a Doctor gets a hundred or two an hour. He spent less than 15 min with me after I spent 2 hours waiting for him to be late for our appointment. What about my time and wages lost. Develope reasonable pricing standard throughout the system and thin the herd back down to Doctors who do it because they care for the patient, not the money.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  194. helen

    no. taxing soda and chips is not the answer.

    There needs to be a serious review of medical pricing. Doctors and hospitals charge enormous amounts of money, hoping the patient or issuance company will just pay. Well, most insurance companies anf Medicare have pay schedules giving the appearance of deeply discounting the cost of their medical care. Doctors will send a patient to collection agencies over a $10.00 bill.

    What needs to happen is a 'come to Jesus' meeting that medical care is not just for rich. Doctors who enter into medicine to get rich violate their oath. Hospitals who are not for profit corporations should not redistribute their 'profits' to the executives.

    Greed took over the medical profession when insurance companies and big business took over. Remove the profit out of medicine.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  195. Joseph

    Jack, I'll tell you whether I favor taxing junk food as soon as you give me an exact definition of what junk food is. Too tough to define? Then we shouldn't tax it.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  196. Gigi

    It works for me. If I'm not smart enough to take care of my health I need to be reminded. Call it sin tax.
    And while we are thinking of taxes lets tax expense accounts for government workers by 50%. Other government waste like telling us we are going to get a stimulus check then tax us for it. Just send the check...no announcement or follow up letter. How much government waste was that.

    Oregon

    May 14, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  197. James Sheridan

    I'm opposed to any type of tax increase, but then again who isn't? A tax increase is a tax increase, whether it's an income tax or a "junk food" tax.

    But what I'm more concerned with is the fact that Obama has once again turned cheek on yet another one of his campaign promises.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  198. Sean

    Jack,

    No I don't think it's a good idea to tax items that are already taxed to begin with. If the government's aim is to curb drastic spending how about stopping congressional members from essentially making their own salaries? These high up officials are sitting pretty, while someone like me, cannot even get a student loan without a perfect credit score. I'm tired of being taxed for their irresponsible behaviors and think that all of them should take a pay cut to fund certain bills, like more money for the war.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  199. Juan Lopez

    Do it !!! Its time!! We cannot afford to be so picky about how we get this money. Our health is our true wealth.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  200. John in Ithaca, NY

    I am a smoker. I have rolled my own cigarettes for over ten years, and recently the cost of a pouch of rolling tobacco more than doubled from $2.19 to $5.30, whereas packs of cigarettes went up about a buck. And now they're talking about raising the price another two dollars?? Where do they get off? If they raise the price on 'bad behavior' according to how much money you make, that would be much more fair than simply raising the price by the same amount for everyone. That only affects the poor. And if we're already talking about these kinds of big brother shenanigans at this stage of dealing with the healthcare problem - believe me, it's going to get much much worse. Ever see the movie 'Demolition Man'? How about outlawing tacos? Give me a break. Be a little more clever in how you fund healthcare. Don't further reduce the number of 'privelages' we've already got. Ridiculous.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  201. Henry in US Army

    There are certain behaviors that have a detrimental impact on all taxpayers and they should be taxed. However, the federal government is too big, too powerful, and poorly managed. Individual states should provide universal basic health care and hold referedums on how to pay for it.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  202. Ken in NC

    It is OK to tax them Jack but let’s not stop there. We need to have not only a “SIN TAX” but an “ANGEL TAX”. Tax health conscious people that walk and jog with a “Rode Tax“. Tax those that use work out machines in Gyms with an “Energy Use Tax” and don’t forget those that go home from work, eat dinner and hit the couch to watch you on CNN with a “Couch Potato TV Tax”.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  203. AspenFreePress

    Right on! Let's mount our health care reform costs on the back of food abuse. Every dark cloud, including obesity, has a silver lining, right?
    Sterling Greenwood/Aspen Free Press

    May 14, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  204. Paul

    Capping or eliminating the tax deductions on charitable donations is a start. Expecting a tax deduction for being charitable isn't really being all that truly charitable. As for taxing consumer goods that are directly linked to obesity, cancer, diabetes...I find it appropriate. Discouraging unbridled consumption of things we don't need and are harmful to us is a good thing. The money will help get our health costs under control and the decrease in consumption will help the general physical health of our population. Call it a swift kick in the butt – some people simply need it.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  205. Pat

    Yeah, it could be. 2 problems: Didn't they just raise the cigarette tax 75¢ this year? Didn't they just raise it $1.75 less than 2 years ago?? A $2.50 pack of smokes 2 years ago now costs $5.50. That's only a 120% price hike in 2 years, so I guess it's time to raise the price again, huh? Second, how many wealthy people do you know who smoke, drink beer, and pig out on junk food? Sounds like another tax hike to the lower class, but they can afford it-the economy's on the mend, right?

    WI

    May 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  206. Peg from NY

    No. Legalize marijuana and tax pot, booze, and smokes. legalize prostitution and tax that as well. Why not tax drunk drivers'? Taxing any type of food just seems wrong.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  207. jason

    Here's an idea. We don't fund programs that don't work. Federal health care has the same likelihood of success as our federal retirement plan.

    Regulating behavior is like regulating morals, don't do it. I'm so tired of our politicians thinking that they're qualified to make our personal decisions for us.

    I can't demand a raise from my boss because I want to spend more money then I currently make. I can't spend money that I don't have, even if it's for something that is "necessary". Is it to much to ask our government to live by the same responsibilities and standards that we expect the citizens of this country to live by? We wonder why there is a major debt problem among the people. Look at the example we have to follow.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  208. Jonni from Los Angeles

    grrr... arg... errr... uhhh... yeah. Whatever. Call me when the revolution starts. And people wonder why I vote 3rd party every election. Now if you will excuse me, I am going to break open a bottle of wine, a bag of chips, and go smoke a cigarette.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  209. Ian in Texas

    Absolutely not. There are two problems with this. First, if people want socialized health care, then they can pay the socialized bill for it. Why should a select group have to carry the burden? Second, the government needs to stop regulating how we live. You're telling me that if I run two miles every day and then decide to have a beer and pizza on Friday night, I'm unhealthy and should have to pay taxes for my behavior? What's next? Are we going to tax people who don't conceive with in vitro fertilization because their embryo wasn't pre-screened for health problems?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  210. John (Cotellese)

    Sin taxes over burden the poor and never do what the government thinks they will do. After the tobacco tax on April 1st 2009, my pound of tobacco went from $13.99 to $53.99. This amounts to an $80.00 new tax on me every month. I am now working on quitting, but in the mean time I stopped giving money to the food bank, church, and a few other groups to get back on budget. Twice since April I watched mothers put back baby food at the checkout because they did not have enough money to pay for their cigarettes and the baby products. It’s good that the tax is going for medical treatment because there are going to be a lot of under fed and sick babies.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  211. jb1879

    If a person has major health problems in their family history they should be paying more taxes because they will be using the health system more than others. Also, if you eat you should be taxed more. Does this sound stupid, well so does over taxing smokers and fast food eaters !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 It is all part of Obama's "TAKE FROM THE RICH AND GIVE TO THE POOR" program !!!!!!!!!!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  212. Grrrr-Awful-O

    Ha Ha! The lower classes get taxed under the Obama administration after all. Hey! The math didn't add up during the election. If you didn't see these embedded taxes coming then you weren't very realistic. But democrats are always grounded in idealism and not well grounded in reality. So you get to open your wallet too! Ha ha ha!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  213. jamiedoomrub

    You throw more and more taxes on cigarettes and alcohol and of course many people will quit. Once they quit Phillip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Anheuser-Busch and all the other companies will go out of business. People will lose jobs and farmers of hops, tobaccoo and every other ingredient will also go down with them. More job losses=more failing of the economy. So let them go under after all, the government will end up bailing them out as well with your tax dollars and in the end it will hurt.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  214. Danny Cosic

    Those who abuse cigarettes, alcohol and junk foods for their own selfish, sick, unhealthy lifestyle will naturally say 'no'. Those who are healthy, myself included, and would rather go on a job than smoke their life away will say, 'Yes'.

    Danny Cosic
    Phoenix, AZ

    May 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  215. mary

    perhaps new jobs for D.C. the lobbists for alcohol and tobacco will be joined by new lobbists..the sugar and salt food industries..plus the new government employees to define and regulate the setting, collecting of such taxes...new office building construction etc...argh!!!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  216. Paulette,Dallas,PA

    Yes. Many people will just give these habits up because they won't b e able to afford them anymore. Soda and junk food should be included to.. Maybe the American people will become healthier and not need so much health care brought on by these poor health habits.This is why there will also need to be a cap on credits given for charitable contributions. As the public drops these bad habits there will be fewer dollars coming in from that source. I'm sure they can find a way to do it.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  217. Susan

    We could also put a heavy tax on any Medical Machine, Drugs and Procedures that keeps people alive when they should have died. They keep people alive to long......we have to change our attitude toward Death......Nothing wrong with Death......as it is only part of LIFE. We also have to realize that everything on this EARTH is recycled and so is the human being. We need to accept death, without spending trillions of $$$$ on keeping people alive.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  218. Lynn, Columbia, Mo..

    When are they going to tax caviar, champagne and 60 yr old brandy and scotch? The people who indulge in these can afford to pay higher taxes on them more than the rest of us can on cheap foods and drinks. Will anorexics get tax breaks even if they have to go to the hospital for tube feeds and IVs?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  219. Chris

    As a user of alcohol, junk food, and the occasional cigar – of course this is a good idea! It helps curb light users like me as well as the people that pound away 4 liters of soda per day. In the end, we will have spent a significant amount in taxes to pay for healthcare reform, which in the end will probably be paid back by the government in the form of a free quintuple heart bypass. Essentially you are giving the government a loan to get healthcare up to snuff – what's so bad about that?

    May 14, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  220. steve

    If they start taxing that cigs and beer (more than they already do), people will just start growing and brewing their own stuff.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  221. Jonathan Scott

    When an american citizen has a money slump they save and don't spend as much. Why can't the Gov. follow this example if it is short on money then cut spending!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  222. Jean B

    Taxes, cigs,etc is simply a start – wait a yr and watch those that voted for Obama be screaming to the heavens...too late folks you fell for the con !
    Jean B
    WI

    May 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  223. Kay in Texas

    You might think that this will be a hard 'act to follow'. Just who will be on the Evil or Not Evil committee? I suppose that there will be some who think that Wine is Evil, but on the other hand, Red wine is full of antioxiants, does that put it in the Not Evil category? If Potato Chips are Evil, if you bake them, does that put them in the Not Evil category? Are we going to have to have a special commission to study this? In general, if the substance (or behavior) causes increased health costs for the rest of us, I agree, it should be taxed.... especially tobacco and non-nutritious food, and probably hard liquor.... and I think if we taxed Marijuana, we would have enough $$ to give it to the sick people that need it, educate and protect young people who should not have access to it and have enough left over to provide health care to those people who smoked it for 30 years and have NO health care for some reason they can't remember!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  224. Mark, Bradenton, FL

    What a way to raise taxes. Obama is a fraud no taxes on 95% of the people. I do not smoke nor do I eat junk food but this is a way to dictate people how to live. By the way more taxes means people consume less that means fast food joints will close, beer companies will lay off. What after there are no more cigarettes, alcohol and junk food? Tax vegetables, clean air, coffee? Obama is lost, I thnk he would fit great into Cuba or China. Well less than four years to go. In a rough economy you lower taxes, you lower taxes. BASIC ECONOMICS.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  225. Bob

    Yes. Taxes on these items would provide additional revenue. The overall health of the nation would improve because the increased taxes would bring about a decrease in the number of drinkers and smokers.

    These are the conclusions of someone who gave up drinking and smoking years ago. In my drinking and smoking days I doubt that I would have come to the above conclusion.

    Bob
    Louisvile, Ky.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  226. Marie Ontario

    All modern societies manage to provide their citizens with free universal health care without additional taxes.

    Since America is the richest country in the world and has a huge population there should be plenty of tax dollars to cover this cost as well as a sustainable Social Security System.

    The answer simply lies with the government spending the current allotment of tax revenues in a manner proportionate to the needs of the people and not on programs or policies designed to benefit the corporate elite over the general population.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  227. Gail

    It’s a GREAT way to help pay for the medical costs incurred by the many who overindulge in consuming those products. Make them more expensive and far fewer will find their way into the average American household. While they’re at it, the government needs to revamp the entire list of foods that can be purchased on Food Stamps. Last time I checked there wasn’t a whole lot of nutritional value in gum, breath mints, carbonated or energy beverages, not to mention other snack foods and overly processed sugary cereals. Although, they’ll surely have a fight with the food lobby over that one.

    However, since the government is responsible for picking up the medical tab for the poor as well as feeding them, at least it should ensure they are getting the best nutrition for our tax payer dollars.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  228. Carla in Fayetteville Ark

    Not my junk food,Jack.It's my one remaining vice.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  229. Dave F in Canada

    The problem with taxing junk food is that it punishes the poor. Getting 400 calories out of a 99 cent double cheeseburger makes a lot more economic sense for a person than spending five times that on a turkey sandwich with about the same amount of calories.

    If this is going to work, and the Obama team really does want to invest in preventative medicine, then a tax hike on junk food should be matched with a subsidy for healthier choices. That way everyone can benefit from the new legislation, not just those who can afford it.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  230. jans

    Yes tax away! The people who freeload off the working class are the ones who smoke drink and generally do not take care of themselves. This will be their contribution. Makes perfect sense let the smokers, beer drinkers, and fast food consumers pay for everyones health care. After all there is a good chance that they will be the most frequent users.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  231. Joe Grier

    No. Health care reform should be paid for by eliminating insurance costs from health care. That would save billions right there. Then start after drug companies. Prices for drugs and expenditures for advertising – would you believe they're advertising drugs? how insane is that? – would result in cutting more billions out of the present day costs of health care.

    Let's stick to the cost of health care, by itself; only Health Care. No insurance; no advertising; no stock dividends; nothing but patients and providers. That's true Health Care!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  232. Robert S., Metairie

    Absolutely Jack. Tax the things that are causing massive health care problems. But somehow the healthcare industry seems to reap huge profits regardless.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  233. Linda in Arizona

    I don't care about liquor and cigarettes, but leave my Dr. Peppers ALONE!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  234. Alexandra from Florida

    I agree with the sin tax. Maybe it can be established for a decent duration. Although I won't like having to pay extra taxes for an occasional drink here or there, bottom line is the money's got to come from somewhere.

    In the long run, this will help those who need to live healthier lives. Those who do try won't have anything to worry about. What's so hard about staying away from soda and junkfood? Those things aren't healthy and this is about fixing our HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  235. Kim - Blair, NE

    Unfortunately, I am a smoker but I do agree with the taxation. Would be helpful if more health insurance companies would agree to cover programs & meds to help those of us addicted to quit too, though.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  236. Dace

    Tax my beer and soda for the benefit of fixing our broken healthcare system? I'll drink to that!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  237. Casey, Palm Springs, CA

    It’s a win-win! The system gets funded by "sin" taxes and, if I don’t want to pay these "sin" taxes, I simply stop using alcohol, cigarettes, soda and junk food. Subsequently, all of the health issues relative to or exacerbated by the use of these products goes away or is minimalized, saving health care dollars! (So, should we charge a "sin" tax on condoms?)

    May 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  238. Peter, KC

    It is a great idea to tax people who choose to damage themselves in order to pay for saving them down the road. One of the reasons many schools don't provide healthy food is because the junk is cheaper, if they are the same price then it would be easier to induce a change, and maybe we can end this "obesity epidemic" that makes hellcare so costly.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  239. mel edwards

    yes I support taxing tobacco & alcohol but not all junk foods & soda. I do occasionally drink beer but do no longer smoke. I also strongly support banning smoking in all public places including bars, casinos, restaurants, sporting events, etc. Higher taxes and banning smoking would decrease the use of cigarettes which may not create as much an increase in taxes but would have a tremendous effect on deceasing HEALTH care cost.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  240. Grrrr-Awful-O

    Ha ha! This is great! The Obama is taxing the lower classes after all! Just not going to call it a tax (Obama meant "Federal Income Tax" when he said only the "rich" would have their taxes go up). Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on you. Fool me over and over and call me a Dimocrat! LOL!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  241. eugene smith, michigan

    mr. cafferty, the taxes on beer soda cigarettes for the purpose of paying for health care ,is called debt servitude and is in violation of the 13th amendment , to single out any specific group and tax them for something legal , is in fact illeagal under title 18 U.S.C., section 241 /242 , of the constittution, SLAVERY, mob law is replaceing our constitution.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  242. Bob R.

    Jack,

    A month ago I could buy 6 oz.of tobacco for about $7.00. Now, Because of the SCHIP health bill, I have to pay $23.00. That's a 300% increase.

    Let them tax others who equally.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  243. Brent

    I would submit that raising taxes on soda is a good idea, however we also need to lower taxes or make items tax free that are healthy, such as fruit juices and vegetables. If the true goal is to reduce health-related issues by encouraging smarter choices, then decreases must occur to encourage people to choose orange juice over soda and smoking cessation aids versus cigarettes.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  244. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    It's a no brainer for non-smokers to agree with taxing cigarettes because it doesn't affect them. But when you talk about taxing the things they like, that's when they become angry. Taxing cigarettes, alcohol and junk food is what I call equal opportunity for all.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  245. Ann-Gurnee, IL

    Great, another tax... Look I'm frankly tired of the government getting in my life. We have federal taxes when we're born, when we eat, when we sleep, when we breathe, when we die... ENOUGH already... If I want to smoke (I don't) or eat a double 1/4# cheeseburger (I don't) then that is MY choice! The government needs to get out of my details and start focusing on the core federal responsibilities. Defense and the job of governing... no more NANNY state. I have a mother, thank you very much!

    May 14, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  246. Glenn Nodine Boiling Springs, SC

    NO!
    I am not in favor of any new tax. They have enough money coming in they need to learn how to spend wisely.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:43 pm |