On Thursday February 1, You’re the Cure advocates and dozens of coalition partners used proven evidence and their personal stories to make a true difference in the health of the District. They testified at the DC Council to support raising the District’s cigarette tax, and investing millions of dollars in cessation services for DC residents.
The DC Council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue convened a hearing on Thursday for B22-460, the Department of Health Smoking Cessation Fund Act. The bill is championed by Councilmember Vincent Gray (Ward 7), chair of the Committee on Health. The bill would:
- Raise the District’s cigarette tax by $2/pack, to $4.50
- Invest 10% of cigarette tax revenue into cessation programs
- Fund and implement the District’s Tobacco 21 law
The American Heart Association was represented by Greater Washington board member Dr. Federico Asch and You’re the Cure advocate Deb Wells. AHA was also joined by coalition partners including the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, March of Dimes, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Breathe DC, DC Hospital Association, and others. More than 30 people testified, most in support of this life-saving legislation.
Dr. Asch, a cardiologist from MedStar Washington Hospital Center, shared the facts: “smoking and tobacco use causes a myriad of health problems that affect the heart, arteries and lungs of smokers and of those passive smokers living around them. At an individual level, while a heart attack or stroke are the most obvious dramatic consequences, multiple health problems can happen due to smoking such as heart failure, limb amputations or walking claudication from clogged arteries, impaired breathing from COPD, and lung and oral cancer.”
Due to these serious health impacts, it’s important that we do everything we can to help people quit smoking, and the data tells us tax increases are among the most effective strategies we have to do so. The American Cancer Society and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids project that this policy will result in:
- $5.4 million in new revenue to fund programs to help people quit[i]
- 21% decline in youth smoking
- 5,300 adult smokers would quit
- 2,000 deaths would be prevented
Dr. Asch added: “As a cardiologist, I see the consequences of smoking every day – most troubling is that these consequences are completely preventable by simply not ever using tobacco.” Join us to help our District neighbors live longer, healthier lives.
The next step in the process will be for Finance Committee Chairman Jack Evans to call a vote in the committee, so the bill can go to the full DC Council for a vote.
Contact your Councilmembers now, and tell them you support this life-saving legislation!
[i] NEW REVENUES, PUBLIC HEALTH BENEFITS & COST SAVINGS FROM A $2.00 CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA