During the 2018 legislative session legislators have the chance to save lives.

They will be presented with a bill created to raise tobacco excise taxes in the state of Oregon. Although raising taxes doesn’t seem like an effective way to decrease tobacco use, research has shown that raising taxes does indeed decrease smoking rates. Raising taxes can seem unfair to those living on a fixed income but it is the hope that raising taxes will encourage Oregonians to quit using tobacco products. In addition to financial incentive, revenue generated by the tax raise will be put toward cessation programs for Oregon residents.

As a public health official who studies tobacco use, I see the grave importance of raising tobacco excise taxes. In Oregon, each year we spend $2.5 billion on tobacco related medical expenditures and 7,000 Oregonians die from tobacco related illness. Raising taxes may cost more now but if it reduces smoking rates it can save money in the bigger picture.

I urge everyone to express support to raise tobacco excise tax in the state of Oregon. Seeing great support of this bill will hopefully sway legislators to vote in favor of a tax raise, leading Oregonians to a healthier tomorrow.

Jessica Barker

Corvallis (Dec. 3)

The writer is a candidate for a master's degree in public health from Oregon State University.

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