Smoking is a choice. Then it becomes an addiction. So, then it becomes less of a choice and more of a need. If you've never been a smoker you don't understand how very physically and mentally demanding it can be to end your relationship with cigarettes.

I know of many smokers who have quit not for the health benefits but simply because they can't afford to smoke anymore. If the state legislature approves another cigarette tax hike in the upcoming session more and more Louisiana smokers will have to make that choice.

I have never been a cigarette smoker but I did spend my childhood watching cigarettes kill my mother. I don't really care for the habit personally. However, I do know the struggles of addiction and if my memory serves me correctly the inability to pay for that next fix is not really a matter of money. It's more a matter of how bad do you need it.

That phrase "how bad do you need it" could also be applied to money as in the state's current fiscal crisis. Since 2015 the taxes added to a pack of cigarettes in Louisiana has gone up .72 cents. The current proposal to increase the tax another .22 cents would make the total tax $1.04 on a pack of cigarettes.

If you look at percentages that is a pretty big tax burden that has been placed on a small number of Louisiana residents. However, even with the additional tax on cigarettes, Louisiana will still rank 36th in the nation as far as cigarette taxes go.

While the politicians are preaching "health" as the reason for the need for the increase don't be fooled. The real reason is cash money. If the politicians are really concerned about our health they would increase the tax on alcohol. Oh wait, they can't do that. The liquor lobby in Louisiana is far too strong to allow a move like that to happen.

By the way, the new tax money generated from this increase, should it pass through the legislature, would go into the General Fund. That would mean money that is free to be wasted on whatever projects the elected officials in Baton Rouge see fit to waste it on. Maybe we should institute a tax on poor legislation and over spending. I think that would solve our problems in a lot of different ways.