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Around the world, the cost of implementing healthcare reforms is very high (Lee, 2007). To shoulder the ever-increasing cost of healthcare, the US legislators have proposed that taxes on liquor and cigarettes should be increased. According to the Senate Committee mandated to oversee the department of finance, the cost of managing diseases related to liquor and cigarettes in the next ten years will be over $1.5 trillion (Lee, 2007). In the final part of the first article, problems related to the proposed initiatives are illustrated. The second part of the article uses ethos to enhance its authority. As such, statistics and figures on the use of alcohol and tobacco are provided. Through this, the solutions and advantages of the problems are highlighted.
The first problem and its solutions
Based on the health statistics, one in every twenty American students smoked cigarettes during the 1990s (Lee, 2007). However, after the tax on cigarettes was increased, the tobacco usage rate dropped to 18.9% in the year 2011(Lee, 2007). Currently, statistics indicate that one in seventy-one students smoke cigarettes. In section one of this article, the increased usage of tobacco and alcohol in American society is considered a major problem that is leading to an increase in the cost of healthcare. Therefore, the first solution to the problem is to increase the tax levied on these products. It is believed that if the taxes levied on the products are increased; their cost will augment. With an increased cost, consumers will be forced to purchase fewer products. By doing so, the social harm caused by consumption and overconsumption of the products will be decreased (Piasecki & Mccarthy, 2008).
Another advantage associated with the solution is that with increased cost, the students and minors will be restricted from purchasing the products. Usually, minors purchase alcohol or tobacco products using their pocket money. However, when the prices of the products are increased, the minors will be prevented from purchasing the products by their limited funds. In the end, the country will benefit from economic and environmental gains. The country will manage to save on the cost of healthcare. Similarly, air pollution associated with the use of tobacco will be decreased.
The second problem and its solutions
The second problem identified in the first part of the article is that the use of alcohol and tobacco results in health costs, which have a tendency to be borne by the public. Based on the problem, individuals who are willfully choosing to engage in harmful activities should be responsible for their increase in healthcare costs. The solution to the above problem is to enact laws, which will ensure that smokers or alcoholics bear personal responsibilities for their behaviors.
If the solution is implemented, tobacco and alcohol users will be forced to seek higher insurance premiums compared to non-users. The solution will offer social and economic benefits. As such, increased premiums will force users to change their social behaviors. More revenues will be raised from increased premiums to be used in the treatment and research of diseases related to the use of the products. The extra revenues may be used in other development projects (Rampell, 2010)
Third problem and its solutions
The first part of the article alleges that there is a problem in how the government distributes sin taxes. Based on the article, the government lacks an appropriate way of ensuring that distributed levies are appropriately utilized as intended. Similarly, the public has no access information about the amount of money used in meeting medical costs, generated from taxing the products. Therefore, the third solution would be to come up with an appropriate and equitable means of distributing the above taxes and ensuring that the public is informed about the tax proceedings.
The solution would reassure the taxpayers that the levies collected from the products are being utilized as required. With respect to social benefit, availing of the information to the public will encourage them to change their behavior. Through the information, the public will become aware of how costly it is to manage tobacco and alcohol-related diseases and motivate them to change their conduct.
With respect to economic benefits, the public will be informed that the taxes accrued from tobacco and alcohol-related products are being utilized in researches and interventions aimed at managing disease associated with the use of the products. As such, the public will appreciate that other taxes meant for development projects are not being directed at managing the diseases. Through this, they will be loyal when paying their taxes, knowing that they are appropriately utilized, enhancing the country’s economic growth. In addition, it is morally right for the government to inform the public how their taxes are being utilized.
In conclusion, it should be noted that to address the three problems, a tax increase on alcohol and tobacco products should be implemented and laws that ensure that smokers or alcoholics bear personal responsibilities for their behaviors should be enacted. Similarly, the government should adopt appropriate and equitable means of distributing taxes and ensuring that the public is informed about the tax proceedings.
Lee, J. (2007). The synergistic effect of cigarette taxes on the consumption of cigarettes, alcohol and betel nuts. BMC Public Health, 7(1), 121. Web.
Piasecki, T. M., & Mccarthy, D. E. (2008). Alcohol consumption, smoking urge, and the reinforcing effects of cigarettes: An ecological study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 22(2), 230-239. Web.
Rampell, C. (2010, April 17). For Cash-Strapped States, Sin Is Sure Lucrative. New York Times, p. 23. Web.