Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
The cost for a pack of name-brand cigarettes at many convenience stores would rise to more than $5.
The cigarette tax hike is not going to work. Just ask those the tax is targeted at: teenagers.
From the Wausau Daily Herald:
Younger teens, those between 13 and 16, are not as likely to change their behavior as prices go up, according to a widely cited 2000 study by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber. University of Wisconsin Marathon County student Steve Berkelman, 18, said he knows why.
"High school kids pay like a dollar a smoke off of kids who can buy them, so that (increased price) doesn't really affect them," he said. "When you start smoking, you're not concerned about the price."
Overall, Berkelman -- who said he has no plans to quit after the tax increase -- was skeptical about the public health motivations of legislators.
"It's not really helping prevent smoking," he said. "It's just to make money, in my opinion."
Ben Pope, a clerk at the Kwik Trip gas station at the corner of North Sixth Street and East Wausau Avenue, said he has heard some patrons saying they plan to quit.
"My question is, what's the point of doing it if everybody quits?" Pope said, referring to the increased tax revenue the state is counting on.
A group of teens smoking downtown expressed the same sentiment.
"They're being stupid," said Dustin Schade, 16. "If more people quit smoking then they're not going to make any money."
KEVIN COMMENT: Brilliant observation by Dustin Schade. This kid should be in the Legislature.
In fact, Schade said, the state could raise taxes to $50 a pack and it wouldn't change his habits.
"It doesn't matter what price they are," he said. If taxes were higher, "I'd just steal them."
Gno Notinokey, 16, said he had his first cigarette as a 9-year-old and was a regular smoker by the time he was 11. The tax increase will not cause him to stop smoking, he said, because price is barely a factor at all in his decision to smoke.
And from the Wisconsin State Journal:
For Madison resident Ashlee Miller, 15, and four of her friends, the tax arrives too late to keep them from becoming smokers.
And they predict that as Wisconsin’s cigarette tax more than doubles to become the 11th-highest in the nation, their habits won’t change.
Ashlee said her addiction to nicotine -- a jolt she receives by smoking a pack a day -- is too strong to be broken by the tax.
She's already tried weaning herself off nicotine by switching to lighter cigarettes and by leaving some cigarettes at home when she heads to school.
"Then I just gave up, I guess, "said Ashlee, who wishes she could halt her year-old habit because she’s now too short of breath to play basketball.
Ashlee found herself hanging out in the sunshine with her friends in a business parking lot near Memorial High School.
Smoking, she said, is "hard to avoid " when with friends.
Some of those friends: Anthony Watson, 15, who began eight months ago and smokes a couple of cigarettes a day. Sergio Perez, 16, who began at age 10 and smokes 30 cigarettes a day. Victor Shultz, 16, who began at age 14 and smokes 15 cigarettes a day. Alex Renier, 18, who began at age 12 and smokes 12 cigarettes a day.
They said it’s easy to buy their own cigarettes, though in Wisconsin it’s illegal to sell them to people under 18.
Alex and a couple of his friends had heard about the higher tax.
"I don’t like how the government is using tax money to try and control what people do,” Alex said. "People should pay taxes equally. It’s not really fair they’re targeting a specific group. "
The comment by 16-year old Dustin Schade is a beauty. If more people stop smoking or smoke less, where’s the revenue for all these wonderful anti-smoking programs you want to create?
WILL YOU MAKE A STAND TO SAVE LAWS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM SEX OFFENDERS?