Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, pushing for a $1 per pack boost in the cigarette tax, says the increase would save the county millions by cutting health care costs.
At a news conference at Stroger Hospital today, Preckwinkle pointed to a recent analysis by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The study concludes the tax hike would save 10,300 Cook County residents from premature smoking-caused death cut youth smoking by 7.2 percent and prevent 18,400 children from becoming addicted adult smokers as well as getting roughly 16,100 current adult smokers to quit smoking.
“We’re saving lives and money by increasing the tax on a harmful and addictive product which for years has put young people on a path to poor health and taken a toll on our communities,” Preckwinkle said. “The money this increase generates will allow us to invest in the critical functions of our public health system like the Cook County Trauma and Burn Unit.”
The analysis projects that the 5-year heath care cost savings from fewer smoking-caused heart attacks and strokes will be $7.8 million. As smoking rates among adults and children continue to decline, long-term health care cost savings could reach $640.6 million.
Dr. Ram Raju, CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, called the tax hike “a proven public policy tool that will benefit both residents and the health system for years to come.”
At the news conference Dr. Timothy A. Sanborn, a cardiologist and Mmmber of the American Heart Association’s Illinois Advocacy Committee, urged the Cook County Board to approve the tax hike, saying cigarette tax hikes are proven to reduce smoking-related deaths.