The Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative and other key health care advocates announced today that over 200 candidates for the Maryland General Assembly have expressed their support for the Healthy Maryland Initiative. This proposal will increase the state tobacco tax by one dollar per pack, from $2 to $3, to reduce teen smoking and fund critical health care and public health programs.
“We commend all of the candidates who have expressed their support for our life-saving dollar tobacco tax proposal,” said Vincent DeMarco, President of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative. See the photo gallery below for a full list of candidates who have expressed their support.
Advocates made this important announcement today during a press conference held at Washington Adventist Hospital. Washington Adventist Hospital and parent company Adventist HealthCare are part of a long history of effort put forth by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to help people stop smoking. In 2013, Washington Adventist Hospital’s inpatient Tobacco Cessation Program was highlighted as a best practice at the 2013 Maryland Million Hearts Symposium.
Adventist HealthCare also promotes smoking cessation through its tobacco free campus policy at all its entities. This policy prohibits smoking and the use of any type of tobacco on hospital campuses and applies to all patients, visitors, employees, contract workers, volunteers, and physicians.
“This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, which marked the beginning of a public health campaign to curb the epidemic of death and disease caused by tobacco,” said Dr. Alfred Munzer, chair of Pulmonary Medicine at Washington Adventist Hospital and past president of the American Lung Association. “As a result of that campaign the prevalence of smoking in the United States has been cut in half. But 42 million adults and teenagers continue to smoke and sadly 1,000 kids become regular users of tobacco every day.”
Dr. Munzer has been a frequent spokesperson for the American Lung Association since 1974, testifying on their behalf before Congressional Committees and serving as President in the 1990s, his efforts led to the banning of smoking on airlines. Dr. Munzer is also deeply involved in anti-smoking efforts internationally through the World Health Organization.
Dr. Munzer said if current rates continue 5.6 million Americans younger than 18 will die of a disease related to smoking.
“As President of the American Lung Association, I was driven to change public policy on second-hand smoke. And it is gratifying to see the progress we have made. But our job isn’t done as long as there is a single child who picks up the smoking habit,” said Munzer.
Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. More than 440,000 Americans die every year from smoking, and eight million Americans live with at least one serious chronic disease from smoking. This costs the U.S economy $193 billion a year in direct medical costs and lost productivity.
“At Washington Adventist, we see contributing to the health and wellness of our community as our mission and our commitment to tobacco cessation efforts, a part of helping our community achieve their best health,” said Amy Carrier, Vice President at Washington Adventist Hospital.