There is no doubt that there is a lot of merit in a tobacco tax increase. Every state that has increased its tobacco tax by a significant amount has experienced a substantial decrease in tobacco use and an increase in revenue.

A $1 per pack tobacco increase could save the state of Louisiana an estimated $29.55 million in five-year health-care costs due to fewer smoking-affected pregnancies and births, fewer smoking-caused heart attacks and strokes and fewer smoking-caused lung cancer cases.

The health of our citizens would improve, too. A $1 increase could prevent 35,800 kids from becoming addicted to smoking and save 21,900 Louisiana residents from premature smoking-caused death.

The increased tax could have an even-stronger impact if Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature would choose to use the increased revenue, an estimated $223 million, to protect critical health-care programs. I support the American Heart Association’s efforts to increase the Louisiana tobacco tax.

Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman

Ochsner Baton Rouge, Hematology/Oncology

Baton Rouge