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It was an appalling surprise to learn that Montana’s rate of youth e-cigarette use is double the national average. As a pediatrician, this worries me, because these kids will likely become adults who use tobacco and many will suffer health problems because of it. And that's where I-185 comes into play. Experts say that tobacco taxes are one of the most effective tools for reducing smoking. It's no mystery why that would be; if cigarettes are expensive enough, people will cut back or quit. I-185 will provide funding to prevent smoking-related diseases and help people quit, make sure people can get preventive care to prevent chronic illness and heart disease, and pay for care for the health care of seniors, families and veterans.

The tobacco industry knows that tobacco taxes work to reduce smoking. That is why they have spent more than $9 million to defeat I-185 — the most ever spent to fight a tobacco tax increase in the state. They have also argued that the measure is unconstitutional. If this were true, and many legal minds believe it is not, then why would they spend so much to defeat the measure?

I have done the math, and the opponents are leaving out many important facts that show that the measure makes fiscal sense and will save taxpayers, like me, money.

If the proposition passes, and I hope it does, then one day soon, Montanans will be healthier, live longer, and spend less on tobacco-related diseases. That's something to root for. Vote yes of I-185.

Lionel Tapia


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