Gov. Walker Goes After State Workers Who Smoke

By KBJR News 1

February 27, 2013 Updated Feb 27, 2013 at 7:10 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com)-- Gov. Scott Walker is going after the smokers of Wisconsin.

Buried deep in his biennial budget proposal is a provision that adds $50 every month to those state workers who choose to smoke.

The plan is aiming to offset the higher healthcare costs that smokers usually incur.

This move is prompting some smokers is Wisconsin to feel singled out

"Smokers are picked on more than anybody," said Jeff Suski, a smoker that does business in Superior. "It's my personal freedom and my personal choice. It's a choice that I make. I enjoy it."

Associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Dr. Shevaun Stocker, says while this tactic should yield some results, if the Governor is serious about a healthy Wisconsin, there are better options.

"The more direct the increase in cost is, the greater the reduction in use so if you really want to reduce smoking rates, you actually have to increase the price of the product itself," said Stocker at her UWS office.

Stocker says, when the government implements a plan like Walker's, smokers tend to get defensive.

"Typically it will make them dig in a little more and say "I'm not going to change," said Stocker.

A predicable behavior from a demographic that often feels backed against a wall.

"No, I wouldn't stop smoking," said Suski when asked if he would stop smoking if a $50 fee was implemented statewide.

The Department of Administration estimates Walker's plan could bring in close to $3 million in two years.

Zach Vavricka

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