Together in our respective practices of internal medicine/pediatrics and emergency medicine we have each worked as physicians in healthcare for over 25 years. We have each seen thousands of patients adversely affected by tobacco use- which causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema and diabetes. Tobacco kills 1600 Montanans every year.
Every year 400 of Montanaís children start using tobacco in one form or another. Tobacco companies must replace every smoker who dies with a teenager who begins smoking. These companies spent 30 million dollars in Montana last year alone targeting our youth with new products like e-cigarettes and
This November, we have a chance to affect the health of all Montanans and save lives. Initiative 185, the Healthy Montana Initiative, will add a $2 tax to cigarettes and add a similar tax to other tobacco related products. The tax is estimated to decrease youth smoking by 20 percent ó preventing 8000 Montana kids from
becoming adult smokers. It will save 4900 lives. Many of us have been unaware that tobaccoĖrelated illness is a huge expense for all Montanans.
Currently each household pays about $779 annually to help pay for health care costs related to smoking.
Thatís right...almost $800. One of the great things about I-185 is that if you donít use tobacco, you donít pay one single cent!
Money generated from the new tax (which if you donít smoke you donít pay for) will go to fund important health projects in Montana including: suicide prevention for veterans, services to keep seniors independent in their own homes, tobacco cessation programs and health insurance for more than 96,000 Montanans.
Big tobacco companies have lied to Americans for years. They are targeting our kids and they are spending millions and millions of dollars in an attempt to defeat this Healthy Montana Initiative-185. Listen carefully to their ads and notice that they never mention tobacco. They skew the facts and try to scare voters about how the money will be spent. Remember, Big Tobacco needs new smokers. The truth is that I-185 is revenue neutral and will help save the lives of thousands of Montanans, help prevent teenage nicotine addiction and fund vital programs for Montanans.
Itís time to take our health into our own hands, protect our children and save lives. Say NO to Big tobacco targeting our kids. Vote YES on I-185 for a Health Montana.
ó Dr. Elizabeth A Schilling, Emergency Medicine and Chief of Staff at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, and Dr. David C Habel, Internal Medicine/Pediatrics andFormer Chief of Staff at KRMC