Proposed Tobacco Tax Cut Would Cost Maine $96.2 Million and Hook Kids On Tobacco

Oct 15, 2010, 11:51 ET from Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund

Higher tobacco taxes shown to be an effective way to cut youth smoking rate

AUGUSTA, Maine, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Declaring it an "irresponsible policy that will cost Maine millions in higher health care costs and weaken efforts to protect kids from smoking" the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund called on Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage to stop supporting a proposed 25 percent cut in the state's tobacco tax.  

Lowering the tobacco tax would result in Maine paying $96.2 million more in future health care costs from increases in youth and adult smoking. The proposed cut in tobacco and other sin taxes was recently reported in The Morning Sentinel and Portland Press Herald.

"Cutting the tobacco tax is the worst thing you can do if you want to protect kids from smoking and lower health care costs," said Peter Fisher, Vice President, Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund. "To reduce state health care costs, stop youth smoking and save lives, Maine should increase its tobacco tax rates not reduce them."

In addition to raising future health care costs $96.2 million, cutting the tobacco tax by 25% will mean:

  • 5.6% increase in youth smoking
  • 4,300 more Maine kids will become addicted adult smokers
  • 1,300 more Maine residents will die from premature smoking-caused death
  • $29 million in lost tax revenues

Since 1997, Maine has been a national leader in the effort to protect kids from tobacco.  In that time, the state has seen a 71 percent reduction in the smoking rate among middle school students and a 64 percent drop among high school students.

In Maine, tobacco use still claims 2,200 lives and costs the state $602 million in health care bills each year.  Currently, 14 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 5,900 kids try cigarettes for the first time each year. The scientific evidence is clear that increasing cigarette prices is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids.

SOURCE Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund