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Mon May 14, 2012

DUPAGE COUNTY-The DuPage County Board of Health has approved a resolution supporting an increase in the State's cigarette tax, which will result in improved health among all age groups, reduce healthcare costs related to tobacco usage and help reduce the cost of Illinois' Medicaid liability.
The Board of Health passed the resolution at its meeting on May 10. The resolution cites smoking as a contributing factor in the leading causes of death in DuPage County, including heart disease, cancer, stroke and emphysema. There are approximately 124,000 smokers in DuPage County, which is 18 percent of adults, ages 18 and over.
"This resolution is a message to our State Legislators that explains the many health benefits and healthcare cost savings that will go along with an increase in the cigarette tax," said Linda Kurzawa, President of the DuPage County Board of Health. "This cigarette tax increase will help save lives in DuPage County," she added.
The resolution noted that the $1 per pack increase will be a deterrent to adult and youth tobacco users in DuPage County and elsewhere. If the tax is implemented it is estimated that 1,056 DuPage County high school students will stop smoking in the first year, 880 students will reduce their daily smoking and 587 would not try smoking at all.
The cigarette tax, which has not been increased in Illinois for 10 years, would reduce healthcare costs attributed to smoking, which are estimated at $4.9 billion annually. Another benefit would be a reduction in the tobacco-related costs to Illinois Medicaid, which are estimated at $1.8 billion annually.
"These costs are staggering and clearly show why the Board of Health supports an increase in the State's cigarette tax," said Maureen McHugh, Executive Director of the Health Department.

A reduction in the cost of Illinois Medicaid is sorely needed. Unpaid Medicaid bills are increasing and Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed $2.7 billion in reductions to Illinois' Medicaid liability. The cigarette tax increase would not only reduce Medicaid liability, but also make the state eligible for an additional 100 percent in federal matching funds to Medicaid, which would amount to $337.5 million annually.

Overall in Illinois, the cigarette tax will prevent 70,000 children from becoming addicted adult smokers, decrease youth smoking by 11 percent and save more than 38,000 Illinois residents from premature, smoking-caused deaths.
The Board of Health passed the resolution because of the importance of reducing smoking in DuPage County and ensuring that the State's Medicaid program remains a viable option for those most in need.
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