If there is one group of Louisiana citizens that catches more budget grief than people associated with higher education. It would be Louisiana's smokers. Granted smoking is a choice. It's a tough choice to stop once you've started it but it's still a choice. So why are smokers always the target of tax increases? They are an easy target, that's why.

There is current legislation being debated in the Louisiana Legislature special session concerning yet another tax increase on tobacco products. In a nutshell that legislation is calling for an additional .22 cent per pack tax on cigarettes. If you're a nonsmoker that might seem like a great idea. Not so fast my friend.

While that tax increase might not directly affect money coming out of your pocket your wallet could feel the effect in an indirect way.

Further raising the tax on cigarettes will add additional hardship to legitimate retailers when adult smokers shift purchases across state lines or to other outlets such as the internet.

That's what Bill Shepard of Church Point Wholesale said in a story published by the Louisiana Radio Network. Shepard says smokers could and would simply drive across the state line to Mississippi and make their purchases there where the taxes aren't as high. He says if the bill passes the average smoker would save $266 per year by simply shopping out of state.

So the question is this would enough smokers stop purchasing smokes in Louisiana to offset the projected revenue gains by adding the .22 cent tax? Walt Leger, a Democrat Representative from New Orleans, says he's not really concerned about that aspect of the proposed increase. He says this measure will make Louisiana healthier by encouraging more people to quit smoking.

The tax certainly provides revenue, but it also encourages people to stop using the product.

You might recall last year legislator increased the cigarette tax by .50 cents per pack. If the additional .22 cents is added that would make Louisiana number 34 on the list of states with highest taxes on cigarettes.  That would still keep the Louisiana tax lower than in Texas and Arkansas and 13 places higher on the list than Mississippi.