U.S. Senator Dick Durbin wants a cigarette tax hike to help pay for basic medical research.
Durbin says over the past decade, the National Institutes of Health has had to cut investment in research by 22 percent.
He says that sort of work should be fundamental to politicians.
"If you've ever been in a doctor's office and received a diagnosis that scared the hell out of you, the first thing you say is, 'Doctor, is there a cure? Is there a drug? Is there a surgery?' You count on it when you're facing these things. And that's why we as a nation have to continue to create an environment where medical research can thrive and grow."
The funding increase -- totaling $150 billion over the next decade -- would be paid for in part by a hike in the federal tobacco tax. Ninety-five cents would be added to every pack of cigarettes and other products.
Durbin was 14 years old when his father died from lung cancer at age 53. He says a higher tobacco tax could save hundreds of thousands of lives.