Tax could help smokers quit
As a cardiologist, I am pleased to see that the D.C. Council is considering raising the tax on cigarettes (“D.C. Council looks at adding $2 to cigarette packs sold in District,” Web, April 9). Tobacco use is rampant in the District and is a leading cause of heart disease, stroke and death. Every day I treat patients who could have prevented their heart attack, stroke or other illness simply by never starting to use tobacco or by quitting.
I strongly support Council member Vincent Gray’s intention to dedicate cigarette-tax revenue to programs that help people quit. This is especially important in underserved AfricanAmerican and Latino communities in Washington, which are targeted by the tobacco industry. Fifteeen percent of D.C. adults smoke, but the rates jump to 27 percent in Wards 7 and 8. This is unacceptable, and we must provide more services to help smokers quit. That is why I call upon the council to dedicate 30 percent, rather than 10 percent, of cigarette-tax revenue to cessation programs.
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death, as I know all too well. Increasing cigarette taxes is a proven strategy all over the country to help people quit. The American Heart Association supports the effort to provide resources to help people quit and prevent needless illness and suffering in our community. I hope the council includes this legislation in its 2019 budget.
Member, board of directors American Heart Association, Greater Washington Region