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Cheers to DL youth hockey; jeers to ever-rising cigarette taxes

Cheers to people from the area that have volunteered their time to help with the sandbagging effort in Fargo-Moorhead.

Anderson Bus Lines should get special thanks for donating buses each night to carry volunteers from Frazee and Detroit Lakes to Moorhead, and kudos to Detroit Lakes Police Chief Kel Keena for helping to organize the effort.

It says a lot for Minnesotans that so many are willing to help their neighbors in an emergency.


Jeers to never-ending new tobacco taxes.

Currently, Minnesota's total cigarette taxes and fees are $1.50 per pack, ranking 18th in the nation, and starting March 31 a new federal tax hike will kick in -- raising the cost of cigarettes another 62 cents per pack.

A survey of state residents finds that 80 percent want higher taxes still on tobacco products.

Higher prices may indeed reduce smoking, especially among kids, but it's becoming an example of the majority taxing the living daylights out of the minority -- in this case, the 21 percent of Americans who smoke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20.8 percent of all American adults smoke, but 30.6 percent of adults below the poverty line are smokers.

This means the highly regressive tobacco sales tax disproportionately hurts those people who can least afford it.

Enough is enough. Government needs to find some other sin to tax and give tobacco a rest.


Cheers to the Detroit Lakes Youth Hockey Association for being one of the best winter economic development tools around.

Detroit Lakes home tournaments drew 90 out-of-town teams with players that booked more than 2,000 nights in Detroit Lakes motels this season, which ended March 8.

According to data compiled by DLYH's Eric Lundmark, Paul Bender, Rob Williams, Mike Schiltz and John Brehm, home tourneys alone generated more than $600,000 in revenue for area businesses. The average youth hockey player accounts for $282 in spending each day they travel, according to a University of Wisconsin-Madison study.

Some local businesses even schedule extra staff for busy hockey weekends.

Thanks to revenue from its two major fund-raisers, concession stand sales, and other sources, DLYH is able to meet its $200,000 annual operating budget without charging players an arm and a leg. Playing in DL costs a fraction of what it costs to play in other parts of the country.

Detroit Lakes even offers first-year players free membership and use of equipment -- this year the organization furnished donated equipment to more than 100 kids.

Annually, youth hockey brings more than $1 million into the community, Lundmark says. And organizers are planning an additional 16-team tournament next year that will add another $80,000 to that total.

All we can say to that is: Let's ... Play ... Hockey!