I was perplexed to see The Portland Press Herald’s editorial board come out with an endorsement of raising the cigarette tax by another $1.50 (“Cigarette tax a proven way to cut teen smoking,” Jan. 22).

Why you decided to take a stance on this issue is beyond me. What I do know is that cigarettes are now taxed to more than 100 percent of their retail price.

I can think of no other product that is taxed to even remotely close to this level. Why not put a 100 percent tax on alcohol, soda, candy, fast food?

If the criteria is simply that if a product poses a health risk then it must be doubled in price with taxes, why stop at cigarettes? And to add insult to injury, we smokers pay sales tax on top of the $3 in state and federal taxes.

Where does all of this money go? It goes to help cover an over-inflated budget while smokers sit back and feel the brunt of the Legislature’s laughable money-management skills.

Twenty percent of Mainers smoke. That represents approximately 200,000 people times $2 a pack per person per day, creating $400,000 a day in tax revenue.

That works out to $14.6 million a year and that is a conservative estimate. This is enough money to pay off our state’s debt in several years.

How is it that Maine’s deficit is so large with this kind of corrupt cash cow in place?

Supposedly the big push behind increasing the price is to reduce teen smoking. A noble cause indeed, but this is the wrong approach.

All this is doing is crippling the wallets of lower- and middle-class smokers like myself. It’s an unjust tax and should be repealed and replaced with a tax equivalent to other products.