NVH health care providers set to rally in support of tobacco tax

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Health care providers from North Valley Hospital are participating in a week of action in support of a state ballot measure to raise taxes on all tobacco products by $2.

The Healthy Montana initiative will appear on Nov. 6 ballots and calls for using the money generated from the tax to continue Medicaid expansion in the state. Doctors, nurses and health care providers from across Montana plan to spend next week holding events around the state to show support of I-185.

North Valley Hospital doctors and nurses are set to rally community support for I-185 at the Farmers Market downtown on Tuesday, Aug. 14 from 5-7 p.m. The health experts will provide technical information, answer questions and share their perspectives of why I-185 is essential for the state and local community, according to the hospital.

Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in America and each year, 1,600 Montanans die from smoking, according to a release from the Montana Hospital Association. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

If approved, I-185 will raise the state cigarette tax $2 per pack and the hospital association says it will decrease youth smoking rates by 20.6 percent; prevent 8,000 Montana kids from becoming adult smokers; and help 9,300 adults quit smoking.

The tax is expected to eventually generate $74.3 million per year, according to the Montana attorney generalís office.

Revenue from the tax would be used to extend and fund expanded eligibility of Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Montana hospitals are expected on Monday to kick off the week with in-house educational events. Events are set to take place Monday through Friday, providing opportunities for staff to learn about I-185 and the important health and economic impacts on the state.

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