WASHINGTON, July 8, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
We are encouraged that higher tobacco taxes have been front and center in the Pennsylvania budget debate, but the level of that increase is critical to Pennsylvania's health. We applaud Governor Wolf and those legislative leaders who recognize that increasing the cigarette tax by $1 per pack and establishing a tax on other tobacco products solves two problems. It will reduce tobacco use, especially among kids, and it will generate significant new revenue to help fund critical programs and balance the state budget.
A small tobacco tax increase is simply a tax increase, not a public health measure. The tobacco industry has a long record of negating the health impact of small tax increases by using discounting schemes to keep cigarette prices low. A smaller tax increase will generate some new revenue for the state, but it will have at most a minimal impact in reducing smoking. Pennsylvania needs a $1 cigarette tax increase to reduce the horrific toll of tobacco, which kills 22,000 residents and costs the state nearly $6.4 billion in health care bills each year.
The evidence is clear that significantly increasing the cigarette tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by six to seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. Pennsylvania can expect a $1 cigarette tax increase to:
- Prevent 48,100 kids from becoming smokers
- Save 32,200 Pennsylvanians from premature, smoking-caused deaths
- Save $2.19 billion in future health care costs
Pennsylvania legislators have a choice. They can protect kids and reduce smoking-related health care costs with a tobacco tax increase of $1 or more. Or they can protect the interests of the tobacco industry by settling for less.
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids