UP IN SMOKE Rep. Elliot Glassheim wants to help North Dakotans quit smoking. The Grand Forks Democrat thinks a good way to do that is to boost the state's cigarette tax from 44 cents a pack to $1. Anti-smoking groups think the bill doesn't go far enough, and would like the tax raised to $2 per pack. Others think Glassheim's bill, which would generate about $30 million in new taxes, is a misguided attempt to help smokers. If Glassheim's intent is to create a deterrent, raising the tax from 44 cents to $1 isn't good enough. North Dakota ranks 46th among states in cigarette taxes. New York charges the most state tax at $4.35 per pack. Maybe Glassheim, who said his bill isn't about raising money, should think about really jacking up the cigarette tax, even to New York levels. We're kidding, but we question whether making cigarettes too expensive for some residents is the best way to help them quit smoking. Is that the job of the Legislature? The state hasn't raised cigarette taxes since 1993, but raising them simply to force some people to quit because of financial reasons seems wrong.
WELCOME TO NORTH DAKOTA Last week's blast of extremely cold weather was a reminder to longtime residents of what a real North Dakota winter feels like. Bone-chilling winds combined with sub-zero temperatures to create truly dangerous conditions outside for man, beast and machines. Vehicles didn't start. Flesh freezes quickly when exposed to bitter cold temperatures. But veteran North Dakotans are used to the weather, and make do by adding another layer of clothing or simply staying indoors. But for newcomers to the state, the numbing cold was no doubt a new experience altogether. Well, at least now they can say they've been through some real North?Dakota winter weather. Whether or not they stick around for any more such weather remains to be seen.