“One Tough Nerd” Stands Up to Big Tobacco

September 21, 2011

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When Republican Rick Snyder ran for Michigan Governor he promised to be a strong conservative and 'one tough nerd.' Now that he's in the executive mansion, Snyder is showing his toughness by standing up to efforts by Big Tobacco to lower the state's cigarette tax.

In a recent speech, Snyder pledged to veto any legislation that would cut Michigan's taxes on cigarettes or other tobacco products. Just last year, legislation was put forward to lower the cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack. Fortunately, this misguided proposal failed to get out of committee.

Snyder should be applauded for having the courage to call out Big Tobacco and their legislative allies. As Michigan works to tackle its budget deficit, instead of trying to cut tobacco taxes, the Legislature should raise them. In states across the country, raising tobacco taxes has been an effective way to help close deficits, reduce smoking and lower health care costs.

Snyder also said the state will review programs offered under Medicaid to help smokers quit, ensuring that they're effective before the state looks toward expanding coverage so more Medicaid patients have access to smoking cessation programs.

Under the new federal health reform law, Medicaid must provide smoking cessation treatment to pregnant women, and states receive added federal reimbursements if this coverage is extended to all Medicaid enrollees. Medicaid spending attributable to smoking is about $22 billion annually — about 11 percent of all Medicaid costs. Snyder knows that saving taxpayers money by reducing smoking and lowering health care costs isn't an ideological reflex. It's responsible governing that saves lives.

Read Snyder's speech

Photo credit: Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com