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Idaho: Cost of tobacco illness even more than $83M

State health officials say tobacco-related illness costs Idaho even more than estimates given by an anti-smoking group pushing to hike Idaho's 57-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spokesman Tom Shanahan said Friday the $83 million annual cost to Medicaid — cited by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids on Thursday — is based on 2004 data.

That figure has likely risen with population growth, Shanahan said, though Idaho hasn't calculated a new numbers.

Shanahan says cigarette prices affect smoking rates.

After the federal tax for cigarettes went to $1.01 per pack from 39 cents in April, health offices were flooded with calls from people seeking help to quit.

The American Cancer Society says every 10 percent hike in cigarette prices cuts youth smoking by 6.5 percent and overall smoking by 4 percent.