To the editor:
Almost all tobacco users become addicted before the age of 26. Thousands of kids try their first cigarette every day.
In recent years, a decline in youth smoking rates has stalled and the use of other tobacco products by young people has actually increased.
The tobacco companies are aware of these trends and spend millions of dollars on new products and deceptive marketing with the goal of turning children into lifelong customers.
One of the best ways to prevent kids from ever starting the deadly addiction is to increase the price of tobacco products so they can't afford to purchase them. States have been successfully using this tactic over the past decade by increasing local tobacco taxes.
In President Barack Obama's recent budget proposal, he suggests increasing the federal cigarette tax by 94 cents. This one simple act can keep nearly 2 million kids from ever becoming adult smokers. And more important, it means that more than 600,000 youth won't die prematurely from a smoking-related death.
Congress, this is a win-win idea. You can decrease long-term health care costs and protect our children. I urge you to consider the president's proposal to increase the federal tobacco tax. It's the right choice for our kids.
Barbara J. Wilinski
Cancer Action Network