CARSON CITY, Nev., March 20, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Brian Sandoval has announced his tax proposal policies. Already, the Governor announced he would like to see the state's cigarette tax increased by 40 cents per pack, which is likely to trigger a lively debate during the weeks ahead. Our organizations – the American Lung Association in Nevada, American Heart Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) – appreciate that Governor Sandoval has created an opportunity to discuss the development of a state tobacco tax policy that can provide significant health benefits for Nevadans. Toward that end, our organizations are issuing specific policy recommendations that will ensure that any tobacco tax that is adopted will deliver measurable health benefits in addition to helpful budget revenue that can help offset the cost of tobacco-related disease in the state of Nevada.
First and most importantly, our organizations call upon the Nevada Legislature to go further and increase the cigarette tax by $1.00, which will have a much more significant effect on smoking rates, especially among youth, including keeping an estimated 10,000 youth from becoming smokers and helping more than 15,000 current smokers quit. Secondly, an equivalent increase in the tax on non-cigarette tobacco products will increase the effectiveness of the tax increase from the standpoint of comprehensive tobacco use prevention and cessation. An in-depth fact sheet explains why an additional $1 per pack tax is better for health of Nevadan over a 40 cent tax increase.
Nevada's current cigarette tax of 80 cents per pack lags behind much of the rest of the nation, ranking Nevada 35th out of 50 states, and is currently among the lowest regionally. The last time Nevada raised its cigarette tax was in 2003, and in the meantime, 39 other states and the District of Columbia increased their cigarette taxes one or more times.
Significant increases in tobacco taxes are a proven way to prevent and reduce tobacco use and have been endorsed as a public health strategy by the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The consensus among researchers is that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by about 4 percent among adults and about 7 percent among youth. Policy experience in other states informs us that not all tobacco tax proposals are created equally, with larger tax increases that apply across-the-board to all tobacco products while dedicating a revenue stream for tobacco use prevention and cessation programs providing the most reliable and effective means of decreasing tobacco use.
One of the major drawbacks to not increasing cigarette taxes by a significant amount is that the increase in price of tobacco products and reductions in smoking rates can easily be offset by tobacco companies with "buy-one, get-one free" deals, coupons, and other promotional discounting. In the 2011 Federal Trade Commission report, the five largest cigarette companies spent close to $7 billion, 83.6 percent of their marketing and promotional dollars on price discounts to retailers and wholesalers to reduce the cost to the consumer.
ACS CAN statement
"We understand that this 40-cent proposal was conceived with state revenue needs in mind, but a larger tax increase on cigarettes and all tobacco products would do more to ensure positive health benefits that may not otherwise be realized from such a small bump in the price of these dangerous and deadly products" noted Tom McCoy, the Nevada Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.
"The Nevada legislature is currently grappling with underfunded chronic disease programs, tobacco control programs, and a proposal for a University of Nevada medical school geographic expansion that has yet to identify a sufficient and sustainable revenue stream" said Frankie Vigil, Executive Director for the American Lung Association in Nevada. "With a $1.00 increase estimated to raise close to $73 million in new revenue annually this is a win-win for Nevada. A win for public health and a win for the state budget," said Vigil.
The American Lung Association in Nevada has been improving the lives of Nevadans since 1916 when it was founded as the Nevada Tuberculosis Association to combat the devastating disease of tuberculosis (TB). Since that time, the American Lung Association in Nevada has remained constant in the fight against lung diseases and the promotion of lung health. Lung disease is the fourth leading cause of death in America and the American Lung Association in Nevada is often the first point of contact for individuals with lung disease. The American Lung Association in Nevada provides practical help and education to people living with asthma, emphysema, and other lung diseases, confronting this disease at the root level by educating kids about the dangers of smoking, providing smoking cessation programs, advocating for smoke-free environments, and working to reduce air pollution.
"A $1.00 tobacco tax increase will be a strong incentive for current smokers to have their last cigarette and a convincing deterrent for individuals (especially youth) who are considering their very first cigarette. Revenues from this tax would provide new funds for our State that could address critical needs for our students and seniors and reduce the deadly toll of tobacco in Nevada." Rick Casazza, Board Chair American Heart Association Northern Nevada.
The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The American Heart Association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.
SOURCE American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)