March 24, 2011 - Georgia doctors gathered today at the Capitol to encourage Congress to increase the state tax on cigarettes by one dollar per pack. The physicians spoke at the Capitol on Wednesday on behalf of the Bump It Up A Buck campaign. They delivered one thousand petitions to the Governor’s office arguing for the $1 hike.
“Tobacco has no redeeming qualities,” said Dr. Harry Heiman of Morehouse Medical School at the press conference. “There is nothing good that comes out of smoking cigarettes. There is no safe dose of tobacco.”
Currently, Georgia lawmakers are working on an amendment which would hike up the tax from 37 cents to 68 cents per pack as part of a larger tax reform bill moving through Congress. The 37- cent tax places Georgia in the 47th spot in the nation.
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The Bump It Up A Buck campaign estimates that a $1 increase would generate $354.5 million per year in state revenue.
According to various studies and polling by tobacco and anti-smoking campaigns, such increase would stop as many as 11,400 Georgia children from reaching for their first smoke and 49,100 adult smokers from continuing the habit.
The Bump it Up a Buck website quotes that the “annual healthcare expenditures in Georgia directly caused by tobacco use” equal to $2.25 billion annually. The state Medicaid program, already in serious financial trouble, spends $537 million a year on smoking related treatments, according to the website.
Reference: Georgia physicians rally in support of a $1 cigarette tax hike, Ewa Kochanska, Atlanta Political Buzz Examiner, examiner.com, 3/23/2011.
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