Over two-hundred cancer survivors and American Cancer Society volunteers are at the statehouse today, urging lawmakers to boost the state cigarette tax by a dollar. Sharon Wellendorf of Ida Grove is a nurse who teaches classes that help smokers quit. Wellendorf says it’s a myth that smokers don’t quit until they want to quit. She says the reality is smokers quit when pushed. And Wellendorf says increasing the price of cigarettes — by raising the state tax by a buck — is one way to push smokers to quit. Twenty-three percent of Iowans smoke, and Wellendorf says well over half of them want to quit and increasing the price could prompt them to make the change. The American Cancer Society predicts a dollar increase in the state cigarette tax would prompt six percent of adult smokers to quit and 21 percent of teenagers to kick the habit. Wellendorf says research has repeatedly shown there are three primary ways to encourage people to stop smoking: increase the price, decrease the places where people can smoke and offer comprehensive anti-smoking education. Wellendorf used to smoke three packs a day, but quit 25 years ago and hasn’t taken a drag since. Wellendorf says for every cigarette you smoke, you take seven minutes off your life — and that adds up over the years.
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