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More States Consider Laws Banning Use of Welfare Benefits for Liquor or Cigarettes


The number of states enacting or considering laws that bar welfare recipients from using their benefits on liquor or cigarettes is growing, USA Today reports. Many of the measures also bar spending on gambling, guns or strip clubs.

Ten states have passed such measures, and they are under consideration in at least 14, according to the article. While welfare cash is supposed to be used for non-food necessities, states find it difficult to enforce the rule, because welfare recipients can use their benefit cards to get cash at ATMs, the newspaper notes. “Until we figure out how to program the machines, it’s tough to stop someone from taking cash out of an ATM and buying liquor,” New York State Senator Thomas Libous told USA Today.

A new federal law mandates that all states must prevent the use of cash welfare benefits in liquor stores, adult entertainment businesses and gambling establishments by 2014. States face cuts in federal support if they do not comply.

6 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Lee Knotts
    Lee Knotts / July 16, 2012 at 11:29 am

    I realize that government funding should be used for necessary items, but so should a governmental employee’s paycheck. Regulating only those who are on welfare sends the message that only that population is responsible for making poor choices about their health. We might as well tell police officers that since our tax money is paying their salary they will now no longer be able to buy food that is not organic or use money from their paycheck to buy drinks at a bar. This is a blatantly classist policy with no hope of solving anything. In fact, I am not even quite certain of its goal? If people are told, you can’t use that money for this purchase, wouldn’t they just find other money therefore making the poor poorer? People should not be punished for receiving welfare. We should all be held to the same standards.

  2. Sue Blackburn / July 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Mybe Wal-Marts or similar stores only and have the registers set to reject all their order if alcohol or tobacco is being bought. The cards should never be used anywhere else. As it states the cards are for non-food items and therfore should never even be considered for use in ATM’s or other entertainment places.

  3. Terry L. Walker / July 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Jesus offered wine to the disciples! What is going on with Christianity?

  4. Joshua / July 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    How does this become a commentary on Christianity; did I miss something in this story? what is the point of moderating these comments if you are going to allow this kind of flippantly offensive comment through?

  5. Joshua / July 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    the Government Employee’s salary is compensation for goods or services provided, and should not be restricted in how it can be used. the welfare check is a social safety net, money is stolen from people who earned it and given to those who did not. if you don’t see these as fundamentally different things then there is something seriously wrong with your reasoning.

  6. Joshua / July 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    The assumption is not that people who are on welfare are making poor choices with thier health, but that they have made poor choices with their money. are you assuming here that buying alcohol or cigarettes is a wize use of money for a person who doesn’t have enough money for food or a rent payment?

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