Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Letter to the Editor in St. Cloud: State must tax smokers what habit actually costs

St. Cloud Times
March 29, 2009
Letter: State must tax smokers what habit actually costs
By Bob Johnson, Executive Director, Central Minnesota Heart Center and AHA volunteer

For years the Central Minnesota Heart Center has been focused on the management and prevention of heart disease. Part of that work involves cessation programs to stop tobacco use and yet the problem persists.

Dr. Allen Horn, Smoke Free Communities Coalition, has it right in his March 13 Your Turn. The cost of tobacco use is too high and it impacts all of us. In Minnesota, 5,500 of our mothers, fathers, grandparents and other family members are lost each year to tobacco-related illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and cancer. This deadly habit brings with it a hefty $2 billion health care price tag that we cannot afford.

As we dig ourselves deeper into a state deficit, it’s all too much for Minnesota to bear. We need to take action to better our financial situation and increasing the tobacco tax is a great start.
A new bill — Act for a Healthy Future — was introduced on Thursday at the Legislature and a tax increase is included.

According to Horn, smokers pay a little more than $4 per pack, while the rest of us are left paying $8.85 in health care costs! Why not make the cost of cigarettes hurt as much financially as it does physically? It all makes sense. We will save lives by discouraging people from taking up the habit in the first place and by helping people quit while they still have a chance.
Improving the health and financial well-being of this state is an obvious win-win.

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