This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

It's Time to Raise the Taxes on Cigarettes -- A Lot

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- I come from a family of chain smokers, so much so that the day after my two-and-a-half-packs-a-day grandmother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, she insisted on having one last pack before they hooked her up to the oxygen tank.

My parents and grandparents started smoking before they had even hit their teens. In the days of my grandmother's youth during the 1940s and 1950s, the severe and far-reaching health impacts of smoking were unknown. Smoking was not only accepted, but embraced by American society and celebrated as a sign of sophistication. You could turn on the television and find your favorite television stars smoking in character, and the pages of popular magazines were filled with illustrated ads of doctors claiming cigarettes were good for your health. This might explain why a whopping 42% of American adults were smokers in 1965, as indicated by Centers for Disease Control statistics

Fast forward to 2014: The number of smokers in the U.S. has dropped by more than half to just under 20%, or approximately one out of five people.

This month marked the 50th anniversary of the surgeon general's report and warning on smoking, which ushered in a new era of tobacco control policies and health campaigns. The same week as that anniversary, tobacco companies reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice concerning a new advertising campaign that would include "corrective statements" about the industry's history of defrauding the public by concealing the dangers of smoking. The forthcoming campaign is a result of a court-ordered mandate from 2006 by U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, who found tobacco companies guilty of violating civil racketeering laws.

Though a study this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association has concluded that the release of the surgeon general's report has saved an additional 8 million lives over the past five decades, some 440,000 people still die every year in the U.S. due to smoking-related causes. Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in our country and the world.

So what can be done to further clamp down on the number of smokers and smoking-related fatalities?

A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that tripling taxes on cigarettes around the world would reduce the number of smokers by one-third and prevent 200 million premature deaths.

Such a tax would double the street price of cigarettes in some countries, as well as help close the price gap between cheaper cigarettes and their more expensive counterparts, thereby not allowing consumers the option to simply switch to a cheaper brand to continue smoking.

"A higher tax on tobacco is the single most effective intervention to lower smoking rates and to deter future smokers," Dr. Prabhat Jha said in a press release. Jha is director of the Centre for Global Health Research of St. Michael's Hospital, a professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and co-author of the report.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,098.45 +18.88 0.11%
S&P 500 2,003.37 +6.63 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,580.2710 +22.5760 0.50%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs