At first glance Measure 50 might seem to saddle smokers with an unfair tax burden.

But look a little closer.

The measure, which would raise the state tax on cigarettes by 84.5 cents per pack, to $2.02, is on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The state would use the money to pay for health insurance for an estimated 100,000 children in Oregon, to expand anti-tobacco education programs, to increase health services in rural areas, and, possibly, to enroll more low-income adults in the Oregon Health Plan.

Measure 50 critics contend that if state officials think those purposes are so important, then they ought to spread the tax burden more evenly rather than leaving smokers with the tab.

But there's a legitimate reason to tax tobacco to pay for health insurance for kids. Smokers, because they are especially susceptible to lung cancer, heart disease and other ailments, contribute to the ever-increasing costs for health insurance one reason why some of those 100,000 kids aren't covered.

Measure 50 will help thousands of Oregon kids who can't help themselves. We recommend a 'yes' vote.