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February 16, 2010     Cape Gazette
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February 16, 2010

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Health & Fitness 20 TUESDA FEBRUARY 16- THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2010 Cape Gazette New report: Cigarette tax hike could raise $30 million for Delaware RON MACARTHUR PHOTO A RECENTLY RELEASED REPORT SHOWS the result of a tax hike would not just boost state coffers but would also have long-term health-related cost savings. Poll finds voters prefer tobacco tax Raising Delaware's cigarette tax by $1 per pack would bring in $30.3 million in new annual rev- enue to help close the state's budget shortfall, while also re- ducing smoking and saving lives, states a recently released nation- al report by a coalition of public health organizations. The report comes as states grapple with unprecedented budget shortfalls and face devas- tating cuts to education, health- care and other essential public services. The report details the revenue and health benefits to each state of a $1 cigarette tax in- crease. In Delaware, a $1 cigarette tax increase would also most likely prevent 6,400 youths from be- coming smokers; spur 3,300 cur- rent adult smokers to quit; save 2,900 residents from premature, smoking-caused deaths; and save $143A million in healthcare costs. A nationwide poll, released along with the report, found 67 percent of voters support a $1 to- bacco tax increase, with backing from 68 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Independents. The poll found voters far pre- fer raising the state tobacco tax to other options for addressing state budget deficits. While 60 percent favored increasing the tobacco tax for this purpose, more than 70 percent opposed every other option presented, in- cluding higher state income, gasoline and sales taxes, and cuts to education, healthcare, trans- portation and law enforcement programs. "This report shows that raising tobacco taxes is truly a win-win- win for Delaware. It is a budget win that will help protect vital programs like healthcare and ed- ucation, a health win that will prevent kids from smoking and save lives, and a political win with the voters," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Cam- paign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The report was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Ameri- can Heart Association, American Lung Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It is titled "Tobacco Taxes: A Win- Win-Win for Cash-Strapped States." Delaware's cigarette tax is cur- rently $1.60 per pack, which ranks Delaware 18th in the na- tion. The national average is $1.34 per pack. The scientific ev- idence is clear that increasing cigarette prices is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among youths. States will achieve even greater revenue and health gains if they also increase tax rates on other tobacco products, such as smokeless tobacco and cigars, and if they dedicate a portion of their new tobacco tax revenue to fund programs that prevent youths from smoking and help smokers quit. Tobacco use is the No. I cause of preventable death in the Unit- ed states. Tobacco use claims 1,100 lives and costs Delaware $284 million in healthcare bills each year. Currently, 20.2 per- cent of the state's high school students smoke, and 3,900 youths try cigarettes for the first time each year. The national survey of 847 reg- istered voters was conducted in mid-January by International Communications Research and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. More information, including the full report, state-specific infor- mation and detailed poll results, can be found at tobac- 9OO Smoking-caused productivity costs in Delaware State and federal per household $323 million $626 What is the Kelly Blue Book value on your life? y nephew wa driv- ing his Ford Explor- er when he hit a patch of black ice. The vehicle spun completely out of control, flipping as it blasted through a telephone pole. My nephew managed to jump out of the vehicle and narrowly escape before the truck exploded into a fireball. It was just like you see in the movies, except it was a lot more terrifying. He wanted to turn the car in and see how much he could get for it, but now the Ex- plorer is a burnt-out shell that a junkyard wouldn't even take. We put a lot of value in cars today. I've watched shows from "Pimp My Ride" to "Over- haulin'." We have taken the sim- ple job of getting from point '' to point "B" to how good do I look going from point '' to "B"? We have heated leather seats, global-positioning systems that can talk in Mr. T's voice, sepa- rate climate control instruments for each passenger and hun- dreds of different speeds for window wipers. "Your vehicle is a necessary investment, and if you take care of it, it will take care of you," my dad would tell me. I never learned much about fixing cars, even though dad tried to teach me. But I did learn a lot about people, and even though a Nis- san 350z - my dream car - is an incredible piece of machinery that deserves respect and ce, the driver - the human being be- hind the wheel - is a much more complex, sophisticated and in- valuable construction. Human beings are outrageous- ly complicated. We touch snowflakes, build houses, smell pizza, write music, taste wet kisses, break hearts, hug away tears, make movies and pay bills all before dinner. Our imagina- tion is boundless. Our ability to forgive is limitless. We can laugh, cry and curse simultane- ously, while learning new things every day. Created from love, each person is unique, rare and extraordinarily priceless. If God sold the patent for humanity, Trump would go bankrupt try- ing to buy it. I stand in awe looking at peo- ple - the rich and the poor, the angry and the depressed, the survivors and the predators. All are so different but all have the capacity for redemption, hope- and change. We are much more than the sum of our parts - more valuable than a Lamborghini, an Aston Martin or the 350z, and yet how do we maintain this valuable commodity? We create ulcers from worry and stress, back problems work- ing 16-hour shifts and lack ing sleep, cholesterol problems from french fries and double cheese- burgers, and this is just the short list of physical ailments that plague our overworked, under- paid and underappreciated soci- ety. Our need for speed seems to have accelerated the growth of addictions, depression and road rage. Marital strife, teenage criminals and obesity are all signs that we need to pull over and check under the hood, be- cause unlike the vehicles we cherish so much, wecan't be re- placed. Our biggest problem is that we tend to take care of the tem- porary and worry more about appearance than substance. We look good - we really do when we're washed, waxed, Botoxed, veneered, manicured, highlight- ed, tanned, perfumed and dressed to kill, but w&re dying on the inside. While I marvel at the many accomplishments we have as hu- man beings, I am shocked at how we neglect and abuse our- selves. While we may have 0 percent body fat, we are disgust- ingly obese with multiple debili- tating personal issues. If we took the same care of our cars as we do ourselves, there would be a lot more vehi- cles broken down on the side of the road - all burned out and abandoned. The sludge of issues from the past has made us slow. The un- relenting drama we deal with has worn the tread off of our tires. The neglect and worry are burning out our transmission. We need regular maintenance and care, and after 3,000 miles, we have to get a mental oil change and tune-up. It's out with the old and in with the new. Make this the year you take care of yourself. We touch too many lives, affect too many dreams and heal too many hearts to forget about our own. We are worth millions more than any vehicle, even a 350z. William Singleton of Barnes and Associates in Millsboro is a licensed certified drug-and- alcohol counselor specializing in helping families, couples and individuals overcome the negative effect of addictions. For more information, call 934-7807.