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The nation's 45 million smokers will probably help pay for the spending increase that Democrats want for children's health insurance, say analysts familiar with deliberations on Capitol Hill.
Democratic lawmakers will push for $50 billion in new funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program over the next five years. To pay for that increase, they must find new sources of revenue or cut existing programs.
Powerful trade groups representing doctors, hospitals and insurers have united around the idea of taxing tobacco. Democratic leaders have not said to what extent they will agree.
the American Medical Association, the trade group for doctors, said that for each 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes, youth smoking is reduced by 7 percent, and overall consumption by 4 percent.
"The higher the tax, the more substantial the future public health benefit," said Dr. Ronald M. Davis, president of the American Medical Association.