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TheStreet Open House

President's Plan To Increase Tobacco Tax Will Protect Kids And Save Lives

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO)

President Obama today has taken bold action to protect our children from tobacco addiction and save lives by proposing to increase the federal cigarette tax by 94 cents per pack and similarly increase taxes on other tobacco products.  We urge Congress to support this proposal, which would have as great an impact in reducing tobacco use among kids as any action the federal government has taken.  It would be a giant step toward winning the fight against tobacco, the nation's number one cause of preventable death.

On top of the health benefits, the proposed tobacco tax increases would raise $78.1 billion over 10 years to fund early childhood education initiatives proposed by the President, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Study after study has shown that increasing the tobacco tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking and other tobacco use, especially among kids.  Even tobacco companies admit in their own documents that tobacco tax increases reduce youth smoking, which is why they vehemently oppose them.  Economic research has found that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by six or seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by three to five percent.

The health and economic benefits of a federal tobacco tax increase were confirmed in a 2012 report by the highly respected Congressional Budget Office.  The CBO found that a 50-cent increase in the federal tobacco tax would raise substantial new revenue while prompting nearly 1.4 million adult smokers to quit by 2021, saving tens of thousands of lives and reducing health care costs, including for the Medicaid program. Based on the CBO's statement that a $1 tax increase would roughly double those benefits, we estimate that a 94-cent cigarette tax increase would prompt 2.6 million adult smokers to quit and save 18,000 lives by 2021.

In addition to these gains from helping current smokers quit, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids estimates that a 94-cent increase in the federal cigarette tax would:

  • Prevent 1.7 million kids from becoming addicted adult smokers
  • Prevent 626,000 premature deaths from these reductions in youth smoking alone
  • Save $42 billion in future health care costs from these reductions in youth smoking.

The increased taxes on other tobacco products would have additional health benefits, preventing kids from using harmful and addictive products such as cheap, sweet cigars and smokeless tobacco.

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