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Cigarette tax in Mississippi will save lives

Dear Editor,

As a physician (now retired), I worked hard to keep my patients healthy. Unfortunately, I saw the toll that tobacco use takes on many of the people who came through my door. We know that tobacco use causes one-third of all cancer deaths and a long list of other chronic health problems ranging from heart disease to emphysema.

About half of all smokers want to quit and try each year, but only 3 to 5 percent succeed without help. Despite my best efforts, a patient’s decision to quit didn’t always start in my office. Sometimes external factors help influence smokers’ intent to finally put down their cigarette or other tobacco produce for good.

Research has shown that increasing the price of tobacco products through a tax increase provides a proven effective incentive to help adults quit and prevent kids from ever starting the deadly habit.

In fact, a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase here in Mississippi would reduce costs to the state and save more lives.

As a public health professional, I welcome the extra incentive from our legislators to help smokers take that important step to a healthier life. A cigarette tax increase of $1.50 per pack will truly save lives in Mississippi.

 

Ralph B. Vance, Sr, M.D., FACP

Professor Emeritus

Department of Medicine, University of Mississippi School of Medicine