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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Message From Oscar F. Lovelace on Healthcare and Smoking

Act Now! Why? Because I care and I feel certain you do too!
Previously I have shared with you the fact that every pack of cigarettes sold in SC is costing $7.70 in state and federally funded healthcare costs -- Medicare and Medicaid. At present we collect 39 cents of federal tax and 7 cents of state tax on each pack sold. So we currently collect 46 cents on each pack which is actually costing us $7.70 cents per pack sold in SC. Considering the fact that cigarette smoking is our nation's number one cause of preventable death and understanding the simple math above, it should come as no surprise that our public health care delivery system is collapsing.

About 3 months ago, our practice cared for a patient who had end stage lung disease from smoking. He was taking 3 experimental medications which costs about $12,000 per month. The cost of these medications was paid for by state and federal taxes - through Medicaid and Medicare - AND HE CONTINUED TO SMOKE.

Please remember there is currently no more powerful way to keep teens from starting smoking and to lower the consumption of smoking that raising the purchase price on a pack of cigarettes.

If the federal government were to raise the federal tax on cigarettes, it would most likely discourage interstate trafficking of cigarettes which has become a principal mode of funding terrorist cells in America.

So a higher cigarette tax would:
- keep more teens from starting smoking
- help motivate adults to quit
- save lives and save health care dollars by lowering the cost of medical care
- discourage interstate trafficking or smuggling of cigarettes which has become a principal source of funding for terrorist cells in America

Senate Overwhelmingly Votes to Expand SCHIP
With an Increase in the Federal Tobacco Tax

----- from the American Cancer Society
On September 27, 2007 the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan compromise (67-29) to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program with a 61-cent increase in the federal tobacco tax. The bill, which enjoys strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, will have a significant, positive impact on America's health. The 61-cent tobacco tax alone will reduce youth smoking by an estimated seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by four percent. This amounts to 900,000 lives saved from smoking-attributable premature deaths, including nearly 600,000 children who will not cut their lives short from tobacco use.

Sadly President Bush has repeatedly stated his intention to veto the legislation. We must urge him to have a change of heart and put the interests of our children and public health over the interests of ideology and the tobacco industry. If he signs the legislation, four million additional children whose families otherwise could not afford health insurance will be protected.

------ also from the American Cancer Society:
President Bush has announced he will veto this legislation that would save 600,000 children from dying of tobacco-related disease and provide health coverage to uninsured children by simply raising the federal tax on cigarettes.

Last week, both the U.S. House and Senate passed this legislation by overwhelming, bi-partisan majorities. Now the House must act to override the President’s veto. Call 1.888.NOW.I.CAN and tell your Member of Congress to vote yes to override the veto.

Imagine a bill that will save the lives of 600,000 kids and provide health insurance for uninsured children. The president decided to help tobacco companies instead of children. We must make sure Congress makes the right choice and overrides the veto.

Call 1.888.NOW.I.CAN and tell Congress this legislation will:

    • Increase the federal tobacco tax by 61 cents per pack
    • Save $12 billion in tobacco-related Medicaid expenses
    • Reduce youth and adult smoking
    • Save 900,000 lives, including nearly 600,000 children who will not have their lives cut short from tobacco use
    • Fund state programs that will provide health insurance to four million additional uninsured children

Only 2 of South Carolina's congressmen voted in support of this compromise bill that passed the House and Senate last week (Clyburn and Spratt). President Bush has now performed his expected veto. The Congress must show leadership to override

------ from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids:
The tobacco industry spent more than $18 million paying lobbyists to influence Congress in 2006. We don't have that kind of money -- but we do have you!

It's time to call your members of Congress and urge them to end special protection for Big Tobacco. It is time for Congress to pass legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration the right to regulate tobacco products.

Right now, 55 members of the Senate and 198 members of the U.S. House have sponsored this life-saving legislation (S. 625 /H.R.1108).

    • Our Senator, Lindsey O. Graham, is NOT a sponsor. Please call and urge your Senator to co-sponsor S.625 today. You can reach Senator Lindsey O. Graham at 202-224-5972.
    • Our Senator, Jim DeMint, is NOT a sponsor. Please call and urge your Senator to co-sponsor S.625 today. You can reach Senator Jim DeMint at 202-224-6121.
    • Our Representative, Joe Wilson, is NOT a sponsor. Please call and urge your Representative to support H.R. 1108 today. You can reach Rep. Joe Wilson at 202-225-2452.

Below is a short phone script to help you with your call:

    Good morning/afternoon. My name is _________________ and I live in __(NAME OF YOUR CITY)___. I am calling today to urge NAME OF MEMBER OF CONGRESS OR SENATOR to support giving the Food and Drug Administration common-sense authority over tobacco products and to sign on as a co-sponsor of (H.R.1108 for Representatives; S.625 for Senators). I also urge you to vote to override the Presidential veto of the bipartisan bill to raise the cigarette tax by 61 cents per pack.

    I believe it's time for Congress to address the nation’s number one preventable cause of death -- tobacco. Passing (S.625/H.R.1108) into law would be an important accomplishment for Congress and for public health. Please support this legislation and help end the special protection the tobacco industry has enjoyed for far too long.

------ from Join Together:
Heart Attacks Decline After N.Y. Smoking Ban -- October 1, 2007
New York hospitals admitted nearly 4,000 fewer heart-attack patients in 2004, the year after the state implemented a ban on indoor smoking, the New York Times reported Sept. 28.

The state Department of Health said that such admissions were 8 percent lower than expected, saving the healthcare system an estimated $56.3 million.

Ursula Bauer, study author and director of New York's tobacco-control program, called the 2003 indoor-smoking ban "a public health intervention that hardly costs anything, so to accrue that kind of savings from an inexpensive intervention is really unparalleled."

Researchers looked at a decade's worth of data from hospitals in all 62 of New York's counties. The more than 250 hospitals studied admitted 462,396 people for heart attacks in 2004. They controlled for factors such as seasonal differences in heart-attack rates and improving health care to attribute the decline in hospital admissions to the ban.

The study was published online in the American Journal of Public Health.
Juster, H.R. (2007) Declines in Hospital Admissions for Acute Myocardial Infarction in New York State After Implementation of a Comprehensive Smoking Ban.
American Journal of Public Health, published online Sep 27, 2007 [see attached PDF file]

This may seem like a stuck record but I see our health care crisis first hand every day. Please call your congressman today and urge them to allow the FDA to regulate tobacco and override President Bush's veto of the bipartisan Bill to increase the Federal tax on cigarettes to $1/pack.

Press on,
Oscar F. Lovelace, Jr. MD
Lovelace Family Medicine, PA
PO Box 630
Prosperity, SC 29127
Office 803 364-4852
Cell 803 622-4223
"Dum Spiro Spero"

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