Surcharge for smokers bad idea

One thing leads to another

Ever feel like the world has gone crazy and left you behind on the only sane patch of the planet?

Last week Health Minister Mike de Jong said he was looking at charging smokers extra for health care. He calls it a surcharge, I call it a user fee.

So much for that “free” nicotine-replacement therapies program the Premier announced in May. Never trust a politician when they offer you something for free.

I don’t agree with tax-dollar-paid incentives for people to give up their bad habits – we are not children to be spoon fed by the state, although many of us act like we are. We are intelligent adults with freedom to choose and the will to decide how to manage our lives.

Neither do I agree that certain segments of the population should be charged more for health care or other government services because of their habits or addictions, because who among us are perfect?

I quit smoking 25 years ago. I don’t like inhaling other people’s smoke and honestly, I can’t imagine why people even smoke anymore, knowing what we know now about its affects on health. We won’t even go into the rising costs of cigarettes and restrictions imposed on where one can smoke…

But if we saw an actual breakdown of what our health care dollars are spent on – and, every agency, association, government ministry and member of the public has their own opinion, but… – according to statistics, organ transplants lead the way. More common surgeries: open heart, $325,000 U.S.; kidney transplant, $130,000 U.S.; hip replacement, $50,000 U.S.

Billions of health care dollars are spent annually on heart conditions, cancer and diabetes.

If one group is charged extra for their lifestyle, why not all? Charge people who are genetically prone to heart disease or who live in highly polluted, stressful cities; likewise those prone to cancer, etc.

Catch my drift? If this surcharge is put into place, the rest will follow.

Where are our taxes going?

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal

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