State Physicians Applaud Budget's Healthcare Funding; Cigarette Fee Essential to Saving Lives
The Oklahoma State Medical Association (OSMA) applauds Oklahoma’s legislature for passing a budget that minimizes cuts to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, maintaining access for care for our state’s most vulnerable citizens.
“Healthcare to the 20 percent of our state’s citizens who rely on this for basic healthcare services must be protected,” said Kevin Taubman, M.D., president. “No matter what lies ahead, increasing the cost of cigarettes to fund healthcare has to be part of solving this shortage.”
Taubman called the passage of an increase in the cigarette fee a ‘home run’ for Oklahomans’ health. The price for cigarettes is the single largest predictor of the likelihood of minors to take up the tobacco habit. By increasing the price, we will help ensure that fewer Oklahoma youth will become addicted to a deadly product. Very simply, it will save lives.”
Citing Oklahoma’s cigarette pricing in comparison to other states, Taubman said he believes further increases should be considered and will advocate for that. “We need to expand this to smokeless tobacco as well, he added.”
Presently one in five Oklahoma students uses tobacco. The U.S. Surgeon General has stated, raising prices on cigarettes is “one of the most effective tobacco control interventions - especially among kids.”
For every 10% increase in price of cigarettes:
- cigarette use decreases 3 – 5%
- the number of young adult smokers decreases by 3.5%;
- the number of kids smoking decreases by 6 – 7%.
Taubman added that funds from the cigarette tax will help maintain adequate reimbursement for doctors who treat Medicaid patients. This includes citizens who were in jeopardy of losing access to even basic healthcare they need. “Those who have an unfortunate addiction to tobacco that leads to these diseases pay for it,” he said. “Every day in our practices, we physicians see the costly effects of cigarette smoking – people dying from heart disease, cancer, stroke and respiratory diseases. These top four causes of Oklahoman’s deaths are all related to cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke exposure.”
The Oklahoma State Medical Association represents Oklahoma’s physicians as its state, non-profit professional association. It provides legislative and regulatory advocacy, professional development, practice resources and other benefits spanning all medical practice structures and specialties.
OSMA and its affiliated county societies also support many community health initiatives including Schools for Healthy Lifestyles, offering elementary health education curriculum in 20 counties; non-emergent specialty care to uninsured low income residents; and opioid and other medication safe disposal programs.