Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is renewing his call for an increase in the state cigarette tax to fund a 29-million dollar increase in drug treatment. He says the number one thing we can do in Iowa is to fight crime is to fight drugs. And he says the number one way to fight drugs is to adequately fund drug treatment. Miller says his detailed plan for increasing drug treatment is part of a three-pronged effort to fight drugs.He says the first is prevention and education, the next is law enforcement, prosecution and incarceration, and the third is drug treatment. Miller says drug treatment is one area in the process that’s underfunded. Miller says the rapid increase in the manufacture and use of methamphetamine has put a strain on the system. He says meth has become a terrible “scurge” in our state. Miller says we’re in danger of being one of the meth capitals in the U.S. as Iowa and four other states have more meth and the 45 other states. Miller says drug treatment will lead to improvements in other areas. He says over time drug treatment will reduce crime considerably, which he says will reduce the need for more prisons. Miller says long sentences alone do not solve the drug problem, he says long sentences alone lead to having to build more prisons. Miller is suggesting a 15-cent increase in the cigarette tax. He was reminded that education and economic groups are also calling for increasing the tax on smokes to fund their projects. Miller says he supports an increase of one dollar in the cigarette tax which he says would bring us still to a tax less than a number of states and less than the national average. Miller says such an increase would provide enough money for a number of projects while also making an impact on health. Miller’s suggestion of a cigarette tax increase last year didn’t go far in the legislature, but he says he knew it might take a couple of years to get the increase through.
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