A resident I taught a few years ago told me that he should only have to tell his patients once to stop smoking. He thought that his patients would quit if he simply laid out a logical argument -- and any patient would be foolish to not follow his advice. I trust that a few years in practice has helped him understand that behavior change is much harder than that.

You may have heard the news that the NH Senate budget committee voted to not accept the proposed tobacco tax increase that passed the NH House. Although we hoped for a different result, the 4-2 party line vote was not unexpected. Senate leaders are positioning themselves to negotiate with Governor Hassan and as an Associated Press article indicated, "veteran budget-watchers know that one thing is certain: the budget that takes effect July 1 will have elements of both the Senate and House budgets and some of the talk today is nothing more than setting the table for the negotiations ahead." I am writing today to remind us all that we still have an opportunity to influence the budget and we need to be just as persistent as we are with our patients who smoke.

Most smokers express a strong desire to quit and we work with them over time to help them achieve their goals, providing support and useful information. Similarly, virtually all of our senators agree that New Hampshire would be better off if our residents didn't smoke, especially our children. We need to continue our conversation with them so that we can support them in understanding the problem and offer evidence based policies to promote health.

So, if you have already called your senator, thank you! Following up with a letter thanking them for their time and offering to provide more information would be good. You can also email NHMS so we can follow up on your call.

If you haven't already done so, please call your senator TODAY. They need to hear from us to vote the right way for the public's health. The full Senate votes tomorrow! We don't give up on our patients when they make choices that negatively affect their health...we can't give up on our senate either!

Please send your questions or comments to president@nhms.org or post a comment below.