Political Notes — Cancer Society calls for cigarette tax hike

[private]Noting the higher incidence of lung cancer in the South, the American Cancer Society is renewing the call for an increase of at least $1.50 per pack in Georgia’s cigarette tax.

A report released this week by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) says the lung cancer mortality rate in Georgia and 11 other Southeastern states combined is about 20 percent higher than it is in the rest of the country.

Like other health advocacy organizations, the Cancer Society said a higher tax on cigarettes is one way to reduce smoking and lung cancer.

“Georgia’s excise tax on cigarettes hasn’t been increased since 2003 and ranks only 49th in the country,” said Andy Freeman, who handles government relations for ACS CAN in Georgia.

“The time has come for our elected officials to recognize that a significant increase to the tobacco tax would not only lower tobacco-use rates but also have the added benefit of saving the state millions of dollars in health care costs,” Freeman said.

There have been several proposals in recent legislative sessions from Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) and other lawmakers to add a dollar to the per-pack tax on cigarettes, but none of the bills have been able to gain traction.

The last increase in the state’s tobacco tax was enacted in 2003 under then-governor Sonny Perdue.

Pre-K programs open a new school year

The school year started this week for more than 84,000 four-year-old kids who attend one of the state’s Pre-K programs, a lottery-funded initiative that is celebrating its 25th birthday.

“Starting Pre-K is an important time for children and families,” said Amy Jacobs, commissioner of the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).

“Often it is the first time a child has been away from home and in a school environment,” Jacobs said. “Georgia’s Pre-K teachers, directors, and DECAL staff work hard to ensure all children and their families have a positive and successful experience.”

For the new school year, DECAL said it authorized 19 new Pre-K classes, 38 expansion classes at existing programs, and 3,794 continuation classes for a total of 3,851 classes serving 84,722 children.

Williams hires deputy campaign manager

State Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) has hired Republican activist Will Kremer as the deputy campaign manager for his run for governor.

Kremer was formerly state chairman of the Georgia Association of College Republicans and worked as a volunteer coordinator for Williams’ 2014 campaign for the state senate. He has been a contributor to the Republican website GeorgiaPol.com.

“Our opponents are more familiar with the wants of special interest groups than the needs of hardworking Georgians,” Kremer said. “They are protected by liberal Atlanta media outlets that mock a bartender for donating $3 to our campaign rather than the many lobbyists that donated $6,600 to our opponents.”

Williams is also the subject of a Politico feature written by Ben Schreckinger, who spent three days on the campaign trail with Williams and one of his top supporters, Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman.

An excerpt from the article:

It is not until Dog stands at the podium, shades down over his eyes, framed between bouquets of red, white and blue balloons, that the whole exercise becomes fully surreal, like the set of an ad for a car dealership’s Presidents Day Sale.

His stump speech includes considerable overlap with his sermon, though with several new twists. “I’ve tased over 2,000 human beings,” Dog boasts, while dinging [Chris] Christie and vouching for Williams’ personal behavior.

“He’s not going to pull an Anthony Weiner on you.”

We learn additional details of his early life on a Native American reservation that foreshadow his foray into politics. “The Navajos would dance around me and say, ‘This is him. He’s going to lead millions,’” Dog recalls.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: American Cancer Society , DECAL , Dog the Bounty Hunter , Michael Williams , Pre-K program , tobacco tax