Invest in a Healthy Louisiana is on a mission to create a healthier Louisiana by increasing the state’s tobacco tax. The science is clear: Raising the price of tobacco products is the single-most effective way to reduce smoking and other tobacco use, especially among youths. House Bill 119 by state Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, would increase the tax on cigarettes by $1.18, which would prevent 22,300 premature smoking-caused deaths and prevent 34,600 youths from becoming smokers.

We envision a healthier Louisiana with fewer children starting to smoke, more adults quitting and the resulting lower health care costs.

A higher tobacco tax is a reliable source of significant new revenue to help the state’s budget.

Louisiana spends $1.9 billion annually for health care costs directly caused by tobacco use. A $1.18 increase in the tobacco tax will help offset at least some of that spending, which our state — with its $1.6 billion budget shortfall — could certainly use.

Increasing the tobacco tax is a wise investment in Louisiana’s children, its economy and its future.

For more information, visit investcampaign.org. We urge your support of this important legislation.

T. Bradley Keith

campaign director, Invest in a Healthy Louisiana

Prairieville