Campus News

March 29, 2010

Report From: Emory Healthcare

Joining support for tobacco user fee

John T. Fox is president and CEO of Emory Healthcare.

Smoking kills more people each year than alcohol, AIDS, automobile crashes and suicides combined, and at a cost of more than $2.25 billion in health care-related costs in Georgia each year. Emory Healthcare has joined hundreds of health care organizations around the state of Georgia in supporting a tobacco tax increase, which would encourage many smokers to quit, discourage others from starting, and eliminate the need for state lawmakers to levy currently proposed taxes on our already struggling hospitals and health care-related services. The state has projected over a $1.2 billion state budget shortfall for the 2011 fiscal year – similar to situations other states are also facing in the challenging economy.   

Emory Healthcare, the Georgia Hospital Association and the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, and other organizations strongly feel that a tobacco user fee placed on the very product that causes so many deaths and hospitalizations each year would help maintain and grow health care services. We support the increase revenues this user fee would bring in for health care and - most importantly - improve the quality of health for many Georgians.

This option, we believe, would increase revenues and, most importantly, improve the quality of health for many Georgians by increasing the tobacco tax by $1 per pack of cigarettes, as some smokers would stop smoking, prevent children and teenagers from ever beginning in the first place.

Smoking impacts society in numerous ways – medically, environmentally and societal. The opportunity to save the health care system and help many people either stop – or avoid – smoking is a win for everyone. I can think of no better way to help hospitals and citizens alike than to tax the very substance that leads to so many hospitalizations and deaths each year.

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