Tobacco tax is worth saving lives

Published 10:24 am Thursday, February 14, 2013

Letter to the Editor

Most people don’t like to hear the word “tax,” but there is one instance where the word actually means money saved not just spent and that’s a cigarette tax.

Smoking takes more than 5,000 lives and costs Minnesotans more than $3 billion each year. It’s a cost we all pay whether we smoke or not. Raising the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack is estimated to prompt nearly 36,000 Minnesota smokers to quit and prevent nearly 47,000 kids from becoming addicted adults. Over the course of 5 years, fewer smokers means more than $5.6 million in savings from smoking-related lung cancer alone. It also means fewer Medicaid dollars spent treating preventable tobacco-related illness.

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When you consider the lives and dollars saved in the long run by adding $1.50 per pack now, most would agree — and a majority of Minnesotans do agree — a tobacco tax is a tax worth doing.

Linda J. Baier,