Tax could help smok­ers quit

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

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.

FEDERICO ASCH

Mem­ber, board of di­rec­tors Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion, Greater Wash­ing­ton Re­gion

Bethesda

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