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LETTERS: Extra $1 tax on tobacco will help close budget gap, save more lives

Georgia’s leaders are grappling with difficult budget decisions, but this year they have a unique opportunity to save lives while also generating substantial new revenue.

By bumping up the per pack tax on cigarettes by $1, state leaders can help prevent 79,600 kids in Georgia from becoming addicted adult smokers. Leaders will have a chance to change things so reading that each year 10,500 people in our state suffer premature, smoking-caused deaths will be a thing of the past.

What makes the idea even more important is that a bump of $1 will generate an estimated $350 million per year in revenue at a time when the state is spending $537 million of its Medicaid budget on health care for people suffering from smoking-caused illnesses.

A statewide voter poll says that more than 70 percent of all Georgians are in favor of the $1 increase. It’s time to make Georgia’s cigarette tax right and bump it up a buck.

— Eric L. Bailey

Georgia grassroots manager, American Cancer Society South Atlantic Division

Sarah Balog

Government relations director, American Heart Association, Greater Southeast Affiliate

June Deen

State director, American Lung Association in Georgia