Surprise!

Surprise!

June 3rd, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

The nerve of some lawmakers in this country! They actually spend money in ways other than what was intended!

Can you believe it?

State governments and Washington collect tens of billions of dollars per year in cigarette taxes and from more-than-decade-old settlements with tobacco companies. That tobacco industry cash in particular was supposed to be used to help states pay the costs involved in providing health care to people who have smoking-related illnesses.

But by some unhappy miracle, that is not where the biggest part of the money is going.

Instead, states and the federal government are using the revenue for all sorts of other purposes. In 2010, for instance, only $640 million of the $24 billion that was collected nationwide from cigarette taxes and tobacco settlement money actually went toward funding smoking-cessation and prevention programs and related measures.

The eagle-eyed will note that that is less than 3 percent, and it comes to only about one-sixth of the annual amount that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is necessary to make real headway in the battle against tobacco use.

The Los Angeles Times helpfully points out the culprit in this quiet little diversion: "The tobacco industry money was intended primarily to reimburse the states for the cost of caring for people with smoking-related diseases, but there was no requirement that money be spent in any particular way."

What?

Public officials told us they were going to do one thing with untold billions of dollars and then did another?

It fairly boggles the mind.

It sure is a good thing that the federal government has more integrity when it comes to safeguarding things such as Social Security funds so that we never need worry that that money will be misappropriated, necessitating massive benefit cuts and tax hikes.

Uh, wait a minute ... .