Walker's smoking surcharge faces opposition

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Anti-smoking advocates say a $50-a-month health insurance surcharge for state workers who smoke is the wrong approach to getting smokers to quit.

Gov. Scott Walker is proposing the surcharge as part of his biennial budget proposal.

Smoke Free Wisconsin, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids don't support the smoking fee.

They argue there is little scientific evidence to show financial incentives or disincentives cause someone to quit smoking. The groups say the state should instead use smoke-free laws, tobacco prevention and cessation programs and cigarette taxes.

State Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis tells the State Journal smokers cost a third more to insure than non-smokers. She says the fee will affect 10 percent of the state workforce and will save $2.7 million over two years.


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