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Cigarette tax has widespread support

To the editor: The state Senate and Assembly are currently trying to come to agreement on a budget for 2008-2009. A holdup has been their different approaches to closing a budget gap of more than $4.5 billion dollars. One way to raise State revenue recently agreed to by both houses of government - is an increase of the cigarette tax by $1.25. A tax increase on cigarettes is a win-win-win for New York State. First, it will save lives. Price is the most effective way to stop youth from smoking. For every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes, the number of youth that smoke is reduced by about 7%. By increasing the cigarette tax by $1.25, 177,500 children alive today will not become smokers. And, for every three children prevented from becoming smokers - one smoking death is avoided. Next, it means more money for the state. Raising the tax, which has not been raised since 2002, will mean that New York will have extra revenue to help fund essential services like health care, education and tobacco prevention. Third, the public supports it. Surveys indicate about 60 percent of adults support a $1 increase in the cigarette tax. If revenue from the tax is used to help smokers quit, support increases to 77 percent. Even smokers support a tax increase. 54% of NY smokers support a $1 tax increase if a portion of the money generated is dedicated to helping them stop smoking. Margot Gold Executive Director North Country Healthy Heart Network Saranac Lake, NY

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