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Letter: For a healthy North Dakota, vote yes on Measure 4

If my only source of information on Measure 4 were the slick mailers I've been getting, I would believe that my income or property taxes would be raised 400 percent. In truth, the proposed tax increase is only on tobacco products.

If my only source of information on Measure 4 were the slick mailers I've been getting, I would believe that my income or property taxes would be raised 400 percent. In truth, the proposed tax increase is only on tobacco products.

Currently, the state tax on cigarettes is 44 cents a pack (as it has been for the past 23 years), ranking us 47th in the nation, far below New York at $4.35 or neighboring Minnesota at $3. The proposed tax is $2.20.

The goal of Measure 4 is to save lives by reducing and preventing tobacco use. Increasing the tax is proven to be one of the most effective tools to prevent kids under age 18 from starting tobacco use. (The estimate is that 5,800 North Dakota kids will be deterred from smoking.)

The secondary goal is to encourage tobacco users to quit, using the state cessation plan already funded by tobacco settlement dollars.

Concern for their bottom line is fueling the opposition to Measure 4 by tobacco companies, which had poured $3.4 million into anti-Measure 4 campaign by Oct. 7.

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Long-term health care costs will decrease with the decrease in tobacco usage. North Dakota is projected to save nearly $247 million from reduction in adult and youth tobacco use. The estimated five- to seven-year state savings in the Medicaid program is $830,000.

Much concern has been expressed about the effect of the current budget cuts on vital health and veterans needs. Half the increased revenue from this tobacco tax will create a veterans' trust fund, with the balance for creation of a community health fund for mental health and substance abuse issues, county-level health services and a chronic illness prevention and control program.

Vote yes on Measure 4.

Ruth Urdahl

Jamestown, N.D.

Related Topics: ELECTION 2016
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