Smokers now more motivated to quit..

April 15, 2009 - It took a recession and the largest-ever increase in the federal cigarette tax to really motivate smokers to quit. The combination is lighting up the quit-smoking hot lines in Ohio and around the country as more Americans become eager to avoid going broke on a deadly habit.

The combination of a tanking economy and the new federal tax - it jumped 62 cents to $1.01 on a pack of cigarettes - has produced welcomed side effects. The day the increase went into effect a week ago, the Ohio Tobacco Quit line got nearly four times the number of usual calls. For many, the tax was the breaking point, say public health officials, who hope the extra cost will be the incentive many smokers need to finally stop.

With roughly 23 percent of Ohioans still smoking, exceeding the national average of 20 percent, any impetus to reduce the health risk to smokers and those around them is welcome. In the meantime, the money raised from the higher tax will go to expand the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Smokers may grumble that they're being forced to subsidize others but the higher medical costs linked to smoking-related illness have been borne by the rest of us, along with higher insurance premiums. So instead of complaining about the latest tax hike and burning through extra money they don't have, smokers can save themselves from paying a small fortune to puff a pack a day by stubbing out their last cigarette.

Reference: Smokers' double whammy,, 4/13/2009.

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