Vote YES on Prop 86
I am writing to solicit support for Prop 86 which will increase the current tax on a pack of cigarettes from $ 0.87 to $2.60. The revenue will go towards a variety of actions: healthcare for children, reimbursement to hospitals for smoking-related illlness, anti-smoking campaigns, and other initiatives. As an ER physician, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a good idea.
Advertisments have been run stating that physicians and law enforcement officers are against this proposition. I can't speak for law enforcement officers, but the physicians that are against it are either in the tobacco companies' pockets, or they are not the ones taking care of smoking related illness on the front lines.
There is an increasing number of patients that are on public assistance programs for healthcare, including county funded programs, Medi-Cal (MedicAid), or those over 65 on Medi-Care. These are tax-payer funded programs for people who cannot afford private healthcare insurance for whatever reason. On a daily basis, in the ER we see patients on Medi-Cal and Medi-Care that smoke anywhere from 1/2-3 packs a day, costing $120/month or more, where at the same time, private health coverage starts at around $70/month! In addition, smoking is the NUMBER ONE risk factor for cardiac disease and heart attacks, and causes the vast majority of cases of emphysema and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). These healthcare problems alone cost our healthcare system millions of dollars per year, much of which could be saved if we can decrease smoking in the community.
Prop 86 not only makes smoking harder to afford, but it individually taxes those people who are buying cigarettes with the money going to pay for their healthcare problems derived from the habit. It makes perfect sense. Here is a link to information about both sides of the argument on EasyVoter so you can make an informed, educated choice.
Vote yes for Prop 86!
Clint Slaughter, M.D.