It’s been ten years since the FDA was given the mandate from Congress to fully regulate the tobacco industry and tasked with the critical responsibility of protecting the health of our nation. And still, the FDA has not fulfilled its mission to reduce the deadly toll of tobacco use.
President Obama Proposes Tobacco Tax Increase
President Obama released his budget proposal today for the fiscal year beginning in October, and it included something cancer advocates everywhere are excited about a proposed increase in the federal cigarette tax of 94 cents a pack and significant tax increases on other tobacco products. The proposal also indexes the taxes for inflation after 2014, so the impact of the tax won't diminish when prices inevitably rise. If passed, an increase of 94 cents per pack will have a dramatic impact on public health by preventing disease and premature death and reducing health care costs associated with tobacco use. How? A higher price will encourage smokers to quit and discourage teens from ever starting the deadly habit. Repeated studies have shown that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by 6.5 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. The fact that the president is also proposing to increase taxes on tobacco products other than cigarettes is vitally important because the tobacco industry heavily promotes products including cigars and dissolvables that aren't currently taxed at the same rates as cigarettes. Lower taxes can be an incentive for smokers to switch from cigarettes to other tobacco products, rather than to quit. The current federal tobacco tax is just over $1 and was last increased in 2009. Raising the tax to nearly $2 as proposed in the president's budget would bring it closer to the $2.39 per pack recommended in a report cited by President Bush's Cancer Panel in 2007. A federal increase would also complement ACS CAN's efforts to enact strong tobacco control policies at the state and local level nationwide. The average state tobacco tax is currently $1.48 per pack, and New York has the highest cigarette tax at $4.35 a pack. Now that the proposal is on the table, we look forward to working with both the president and Congress to pass a meaningful, lifesaving tobacco tax increase this year that will protect public health. *Image courtesy of: bit.ly/MS9Miz