Mark Sanford vowed to do something soon that will encapsulate his two terms as South Carolina's governor.
He vetoed a 50-cent-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes when it reached his desk.
He knew such a targeted tax increase would increase revenue for a cash-strapped state.
He knew there's strong and compelling research that shows for every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes, youth smoking drops by about 7 percent and overall smoking by about 4 percent.
He knew curbing the state's smoking habit is vital to the state's health, on an individual basis for residents as well as for South Carolina's fiscal health. The state is the buckle of the Stroke Belt and has among the nation's highest rates of cancer and heart disease, which can be curtailed by a reduction in the smoking rate — which would decrease the state's health care costs.
He knew a cigarette tax increase would curb the habit most among low-income residents who rely upon social services more than others in large part because they are less healthy than those more economically settled.
He knew South Carolina's 7-cent-per-pack tax is becoming more of a fossil every year, considering that over the past eight years, the average cigarette tax in the nation has climbed from about 43 cents to more than $1.40 per pack.
He knew those maladies, and resulting costs, are part of the reason South Carolina has to accept more federal money every year than it sends to Washington, making us a welfare state.
He knew increasing the cigarette tax is an investment in slowing the growth of government entitlements because it would reduce residents' reliance upon strained social systems.
He planned to veto the tax increase anyway — every GOP gubernatorial candidate said they would do the same thing — if there was no corresponding tax cut.
He didn't count the $1.2 billion stripped from the state budget during the recent economic downturn.
He doesn't believe what the state's Board of Economic Advisors found, that the tax cuts enacted before the downturn worsened the state's fiscal health during the recession, or the Strom Thurmond Institute finding that the General Assembly's increase in annual spending over the past few years was not outrageous when inflation is considered.
"We've consistently advocated for increasing the cigarette tax while matching it with substantial tax relief that expands liberty and jump-starts our state's economy, anything from an individual income tax cut, an optional flat tax, or a cut to the tax rates on job-creating businesses across South Carolina," Sanford spokesman Ben Fox said.
All the good that will come from a cigarette tax hike — all the good Sanford acknowledges — must be sacrificed if the governor doesn't get his way.