NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 3, 2012

Cigarette tax has saved lives, health care costs

To the editor:

In November 1992, voters from across the commonwealth took the courageous step of voting in favor of a referendum that would add a 25-cent tax to each pack of cigarettes sold in Massachusetts. This tax would be used to help current smokers get the resources to quit when they were ready to make that life-saving decision.

Twenty years later, that quarter tax is responsible for a revolution that has saved lives, prevented youth from becoming addicted, and saved the commonwealth millions of dollars in health-care costs. Since the time of that vote, we have seen a dramatic change in the way we think about tobacco, and that has directly resulted in the elimination of unattended sales to minors at vending machines, increased participation in health-care benefits for quit-smoking medicines and counseling, and our ability to enjoy a meal without being clouded in smoke.

Locally, we have educated adults on emerging tobacco products targeting our youth; supported efforts to decrease exposure to secondhand smoke, and engaged ex-smokers in sharing their quit stories in order to provide inspiration and hope to smokers who want to quit. We wish to thank the voters in the

Greater Newburyport area who had the foresight to envision a future free of tobacco and who continue to support their friends and neighbors as they try to quit.

Diane Knight

Director, Northeast Tobacco Free Community Partnership

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