President Preckwinkle, Dr. Raju, Health Advocates Highlight Benefits of Cigarette Tax

Study says $1-a-pack increase could save more than 10,000 lives, millions in health-related costs in the next five years


Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was joined by doctors and medical health professionals at the Cook County Trauma and Burn Unit at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital to highlight the positive benefits of her proposed $1 increase in the cigarette tax.

Preckwinkle pointed to a recent study by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids which shows that increasing the cigarette tax in Cook County would have a strong impact on the County’s residents and the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS).  The study says that 10,300 Cook County residents will be saved from premature smoking-caused death.  The increase is also projected to lead to a 7.2 percent decrease in youth smoking and prevent 18,400 children from becoming addicted adult smokers.  The increase will also initiate 16,100 current adult smokers to quit smoking.

“We’re saving lives and money by increasing the tax on a harmful and addictive product which for years has put young people on a path to poor health and decimated our communities,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.  “The money this increase generates will allow us to invest in the critical functions of our public health system like the Cook County Trauma and Burn Unit.”

The study projects that the 5-year heath care cost savings from fewer smoking affected pregnancies and births to be $10.5 million and the 5-year health care cost savings from fewer smoking-caused heart attacks and strokes will be $7.8 million.  As smoking rates among adults and children continue to decline, long-term health care cost savings could reach $640.6 million.

“Raising taxes on cigarettes will have a significant impact on smoking rates and reduce the number of smoking-related illness throughout Cook County,” said Dr. Ramanathan Raju, CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System.  “

At a news conference today President Preckwinkle and Dr. Raju were joined by the American Lung Association, the Respiratory Health Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Northshore XXX and community leaders who support the increase in the cigarette tax.  They also pledged to work together with Cook County in the coming year to promote tobacco cessation efforts throughout the region.

“It is critical that government and the healthcare community work hand in hand to promote positive health outcomes and common-sense public policy.  We salute President Preckwinkle’s leadership in this area and will continue to work with the County to eradicate smoking and smoking-related illness.”

One of the busiest in the country, the Cook County Trauma and Burn Unit treated more than 5,700 patients last year.  It houses an Intensive Care Unit, Trauma Resuscitation area and a burn unit, as well as a Division of Research and Education.  The nine full-time attending surgeons treat a wide range of critical injuries from gunshot wounds and brain injuries to thermal, chemical or electrical burns.