Letter: Raising cigarette tax can save lives

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Editor,

“When did you quit?” I ask.

“Ten years ago,” she replies. “I wish I had never started. Quitting was the hardest thing I ever did, and it doesn’t undo the 30 years before.”

I nod with understanding as I start her IV. The respiratory therapist has already been called to give her a breathing treatment. She is audibly wheezing, with a rattling cough. I will see many like her throughout my day.

Most likely, you know someone who smokes. Indiana is ranked 44th worst in the nation, meaning 23 percent of Hoosiers smoke. Maybe you know someone who has developed a lung condition or has cancer that stems from smoking. It is legal, highly addictive, and deadly: 11,100 Hoosiers die from smoking-related illnesses every year.

Therefore, I support raising the cigarette tax and the legal smoking age. In Indiana, 4,100 teenagers start smoking every year. It is believed that raising the legal age would reduce smoking by 12 percent. Indiana has the lowest cigarette tax compared to our other neighboring states, besides Kentucky. Those who oppose raising the cigarette tax are concerned that raising prices will hurt businesses that profit from cigarette sales. However, the increased tax will increase revenue for Indiana, and the hope is that it will lower the $6 billion spent in health care costs from smoking-related illnesses.

As an emergency department nurse, I see the effects of smoking every day. Watching a loved one struggle to breathe is devastating. So I ask: Speak to your legislator about the need to raise the cigarette tax and the legal smoking age. If we can make it a little bit harder for someone to smoke and give them a little more cause to consider the risks they are taking, then we might just might save a life.

Ashley Estep, Carmel

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