CHAMPAIGN — Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed $1-per-pack cigarette tax could help close Illinois' $2.7 billion Medicaid deficit and help fight chronic disease, the state's top health official says.
Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, newly-appointed director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, met with area public health leaders at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Tuesday afternoon and urged support for the cigarette tax increase.
The tax is a "no brainer," he said.
"The cigarette tax is actually one of the proven deterrents to smoking," he said.
Raise the cigarette tax and it will deter smokers from smoking and it will deters non-smokers from starting, Hashbrouck said.
A higher cigarette tax would also cut health care costs and improve health and the quality of life for people who quit, he said.
Projected health care savings for the state over five years are more than $17 million for medical treatments for cardiovascular disease, $8.5 million for lung cancer and more than $9 million in overall savings to the Medicaid program, according to the public health department.