Our health

21

To the Editor:

There is no greater need right now than to improve the health of Indiana, and it will take strong leadership. We have that leadership in Governor Daniels, who has proposed to increase the cigarette tax by at least 25 cents. This increase will lead Indiana to having 26,100 fewer future smokers. Ultimately, it will improve the health of our state, as well as lowering the $1.9 billion in healthcare costs that Indiana faces today – which are a barrier to attracting the types of jobs Indiana needs in the future.

Compelling research shows us that increasing the price of cigarettes can prevent youth from trying them and becoming daily smokers. I read in the Indianapolis Star (January 13th, 2006) that Bridgett McDaniels started smoking at age 12. If the cigarette tax had been higher when she was 12, her chance of smoking would have been less. I am very happy Bridgett quit smoking. By doing so, she has increased her chances of living a longer, healthier life. However, I wish even more that she had never started.

Smoking is the number one preventable cause of disease and death. It not only causes lung cancer, but also cancer of the mouth, throat, kidneys, pancreas, and cervix. Smoking does not just stain teeth, raise blood pressure, and cause higher rates of respiratory illnesses like colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia. It also increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke, contributes to kidney failure, and can block the blood flow to the legs. I have cared for patients who developed gangrene and had to have their legs amputated because they smoked. It also greatly increases the risk of a miscarriage and the delivery of lower birth weight babies. With rare exception, my patients tell me they wish they had never tried that first cigarette.

Every adult needs to ask if they want their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to start smoking.

If you would like to help 12-year-olds avoid the addiction of cigarettes and untimely disease, please contact your legislators and ask them to be strong leaders and do what is right for Indiana’s health.

To your health – and the health of all Hoosiers,

Judy Monroe, MD

Indiana State Health Commissioner

Chair, Executive Board,

Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation

2 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

(317) 233-7400