Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is asking the Governor and Legislature to raise the state tax on cigarettes 25 cents a pack to help fund drug treatment programs. Miller says drug treatment is part of a three-pronged approach to stopping crime along with prosecution amd prevention. He says drug treatment is the weakest part in the state’s current approach.Miller says studies show treatment programs make a big difference in cutting crimes. He says one study shows those that went into drug treatment committed 50-percent fewer crimes. He says even those that failed the drug program showed a decrease in the amount of crime they committed. Miller says all the research he’s done shows investment in drug treatment can make the most impact on crime.Miller says the cigarette tax increase would generate an estimated 50-million dollars, and he’d like to spend 29-million on drug treatment programs. Miller wants four million dollars to go to the Knoxville Veterans home to turn some of the home’s unused space into a treatment center for probation violators.He says it would be part treatment, part prison, so that people who are failing probation due to substance abuse could be sent there to clean up instead of being sent back to prison. Miller also wants to target three million dollars to continuing and expanding the drug courts already being used in Des Moines, Sioux City, Mason City and Marshalltown.He says drug courts work well because you have prosecution and treatment side-by-side. Miller says the current tax on cigarettes is 36 cents a pack for the state, and 39 cents federal tax. He says Iowa’s tax on cigarettes is one of the lowest in the nation. Miller also wants to use 15 million of the proposed tax to fund state anti-tobacco programs.
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