State health chief backs Quinn's $1-a-pack cigarette tax plan

State health chief backs Quinn's $1-a-pack cigarette tax plan

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.

Here is audio from WDWS of Hasbrouck's remarks.

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.

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sameeker wrote on May 15, 2012 at 7:05 pm

What did Illinois do with the billions that they got in the tobacco settlement? There were no free classes, no free medicine, no free patches, no incentives for somkers to quit. Illinois blew the money on pork. Anybody who thinks that they want people to quit smoking is deluded. They have come to rely too much on the tax money. This is just another way for the state to beat up on the poor. Of course, they do that so well. I notice that as more people quit smoking over the years, insurance and medical rates have not come down. Indeed, their profits  (and political contributions) have skyrocketed. Isn't it funny how the states sued the tobacco companies, while trying to ban the public from suing when they were wronged. The state says "Don't worry, we sued them for you. That is why you can't sue them yourself. Oh Yeah, we kept the money too". I propose a compromise. Pass the tax and link it to a dollar for dollar tax on ALL political contributions.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Tax cigarettes; legalize, and tax marijuana; legalize, and tax online casinos; increase the tax on guns, and ammunition; charge admission to the state parks; and produce a TV reality series in Springfield for HBO: Lincoln Land, the Secret History of Political Corruption.  Taxing political contributions over $100 would go a long way to curtail the payoffs though.  I doubt they would vote on it though.  Sort of like their not voting annually to give themselves a raise.  They structured the law so they get the automatic raise unless they vote on it. 

Ron wrote on May 15, 2012 at 7:05 pm

The Libs are gonna tax you for your own good.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm

They are ALL gonna tax you.  This is Illinois where it really makes no difference which party is in power.  The past two governors: one Republican, and one Democrat, are sitting in prison right now.  The legislature has the same history.  Tax, Spend, and Steal is their motto.

areader wrote on May 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Come on you guys/gals--smoking cigarettes is NASTY!!!!!!  Nuff said . . .

RLW wrote on May 16, 2012 at 7:05 am

I went from paying $7 a carton to over $50 a carton. I am tired of being discriminated

because I smoke. HOW ABOUT RAISING THE ALCOHOL TAX???? I bet you would

raised twice the amount of money than on ciggs. By the way , when was the last time

the alcohol tax was raised?? Never I bet.

imru95 wrote on May 16, 2012 at 8:05 am

I already pay more for my health insurance because I smoke.  There is already a HUGE tax on cigarettes.  What is the state doing with all of our tax dollars?  No wonder everyone is moving out of the "Great State of Illinois".  They keep saying that they are increasing the taxes on cigarettes to encourage people to quit.  What the heck would they do if we did??  You think the state is broke now?  Why doesn't the state start taking lessons from some of the states that aren't a financial train wreck.  If I could move, I would.  In a heartbeat.