Cigarette Taxes Could Save Lives

Since 2002, over 42 states have raised cigarette taxes and more cities and states are continually looking at this issue. Why, you may ask? Well, because it saves lives. If you hit people where it hurts most — the wallet — they will perk up, listen and consider their options. Studies conducted and published in the American Journal of Public Health have shown that the cigarette tax reduces smoking rates among pregnant women by as much as 7 percent. Other studies presented by the World Bank suggest that a 10 percent rise in cigarette prices could entice 42 million smokers to kick the habit.

Call me what you want (you can even call me a "health liberal"), but on this one a lot of folks are in agreement. Every single country where there is a high cigarette tax, cigarette sales dropped. Let me remind you that there is not one single issue as important to your health as quitting, and eliminating the terrible effects of cigarette smoke. Every single campaign, from warning labels to public awareness, has fallen short in reducing the serious health impact of cigarettes not only in this country but around the world. Tobacco companies continue to spend billions of dollars in advertisements in order to promote their products. Consider this:
• Smoking kills millions of people on this planet
• Smoking has been linked to numerous health problems, from heart disease to cancer, to name a few — all which will ultimately kill you.
• Chronic effects from smoking such as emphysema and asthma are on the rise.

So what do we do? We focus on the healthy tax. Higher taxes on cigarette sales will give everyone a longer life. And, if it leads you to quit, you'll save some money, which cannot be a bad thing.

And now, some of your randomly selected e-mail:

From a big fan of Dr. Manny and FNC: I'm a rower on our country's Olympic rowing team. I have been able to keep my six-pack intact (despite a 7,000 calorie diet a day!) by doing abdominal and core muscle work while watching FNC's morning show following our morning training session on Lake Carnegie in Princeton, N.J.! — Jason

On today's morning program you talked about the emergency room problem. According to your numbers, 40 have closed. however you failed to mention why. They are not inefficient, they have to tend to many illegals. I hope more emergency rooms close then maybe people will wise up to the illegal problem. — Norman

I heard what you said this morning and you're right. I was hurt at work and had insurance. They left me in the hallway for 12 hours after a water heater fell on my leg and tore my ACL, and other muscles. This was in Dallas, Texas. I have been out of work for almost four months now and had to have surgery too. Thank you and have a good day too. — Leroy

Doctors, scientists, and weight-loss experts everywhere are telling the American people every day to eat less and exercise more. I just want to talk about temptation. Everywhere we go, we are bombarded by restaurants of every kind. On television, there are commercials for food. Most social engagements involve an abundance of food. We hear how our food goes to waste while there are men, women, and children starving on the African continent and in parts of Asia. It is very difficult to "just say no" to this overabundance of food. We have visual cues about food 24 hours a day. If we are trying to lose weight, we think about food every day. I hear that the U.S. government is asking the restaurant industry to make their portions smaller. Richard Simmons tells us that we should either avoid restaurants who serve large portions or we should take some of the food home in a doggie bag. He doesn't like the idea of food police for Americans. Eating and drinking to excess has become an American pastime for many years now. Not everybody does it, of course. And, some people cannot afford this expensive habit. I think education is one of the keys to weight loss. So is truth in advertising. And, a slower pace of life. Which, on Long Island, is almost impossible. So, you see my dilemma! — Arlene

I heard the segment this morning on video game addictions. I agree that video games can be addicting and the solution unfortunately is difficult for gamers or any addict to accept, moderation. I play video games. As a result of playing video games I have stopped other hobbies of mine (ex. Playing guitar, painting and drawing, etc) to feed my addiction. I’m also a pretty busy guy. I’m a pilot in the Air Force Reserves, I’m on active duty in Washington D.C. working for Air Force District of Washington, I own my own wholesale/retail business, I’m married, and have our first child on the way. So when do I have time to game? I usually play at night between 10pm and 11:30pm. Would I play more if I could? Without a doubt. I really don’t see any problems with my game playing. I do agree that I could definitely be getting a lot more done if I wasn’t playing games, but this is how I like to relax. Some people watch TV, read a book, and so on, I like to play games. Since I will soon become a father my wife and I give video games a lot of thought. To be a well rounded human you need to have varied interests and develop experiences in all aspects of life. Video games cannot be your child’s babysitter. As a parent you must understand what you are exposing your child to and the effects it may have. As a result, my child will probably play games, but we won’t allow it to interfere with him having a meaningful childhood. — Capt. Michael

With all the attention on road rage, and the search for the cause, I feel that there may be a big portion of the problem being ignored. We note that road rage is a form of aggressive driving. What is ignored is the flip-side: "passive-aggressive" driving. These drivers are the ones who drive slowly in the fast lanes (the so-called "left-lane vigilantes") or pull out to pass slower traffic on the expressways and then take forever to complete the move, thereby slowing down or obstructing dozens of vehicles because they don't want to slow down or speed up. Their attitude is summed up in a bumper-sticker I used to see (I don't know that the owner WAS a passive-aggressive driver): "I may be slow, but I'm ahead of you." I know that there are a few law enforcement agencies who have begun to pull over and warn PA drivers, and suggest that they learn to share the road with everyone else to "play nice." If I were to look for an underlying reason for all of this problem, I do believe that this is a "play nice" or "sharing" issue. Instead of each driver looking out only for themselves, maybe we need to be retrained into optimizing traffic flow and perhaps aggressive drivers at each extreme need to be given a "time out" until they get with the new program. Just my opinion. — Larry

Don't forget to watch FOX News Channel. And please feel free to write to Dr. Manny at DRMANNY@FOXNEWS.COM and tell him what you think. Ask a question, share a thought, share a remedy — We'll try to answer all of your mail online or on the air.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit