Letter: Unnecessary costs
Re “We can’t afford a new generation of smokers” (Monitor letter, Nov. 30):
I could not agree more with the authors. Aside from the $193 billion that smoking costs the health-care system each year, smoking cigarettes and secondhand smoke exposure cost the American public too much.
The recent 10-cent reduction in New Hampshire’s cigarette tax is a real setback to the progress that we have made in combating tobacco use. Higher cigarette taxes are the greatest deterrent to price-sensitive youth. Prevention programs are also vital to educating our youth about the dangers of tobacco use and need to be more readily available in the Granite State. New Hampshire invests no state dollars in smoking prevention and has the highest youth smoking rate in New England at almost 20 percent. Just for comparison, that rate is nearly 50 percent higher than in neighboring Vermont.
The American Lung Association released a report called “Helping Smokers Quit: Tobacco Cessation Coverage 2012.” It made clear that New Hampshire is not investing enough to alleviate the burden of tobacco use. With adequate funding of the state’s tobacco control program, comprehensive cessation medication coverage, reductions in point-of-sale marketing and increased availability of prevention programs, we can begin to tackle tobacco use head on. While the culture of tobacco has changed and society no longer normalizes smoking cigarettes, more needs to be done to prevent a new generation of youth from ever starting to smoke.
(The writer is president & CEO, of the American Lung Association of the Northeast.)