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.
Tobacco Tax Victory in Nevada a Win for Public Health
Increasing the price of a pack of cigarettes is the most effective way to help people quit smoking and keep kids from starting the deadly habit. That's why I'm thrilled that Nevada just passed a historic $1.00 per pack increase more than doubling its current tax!
The measure, which Governor Sandoval is expected to sign in the coming days, will take effect on July 1 and raise the current state cigarette tax of 80 cents per pack to a new total of $1.80 per pack. The impact of this increase will be huge saving more than 7,200 lives in Nevada, keeping 10,200 kids from becoming addicted adult smokers and prompting more than 15,400 adult smokers in Nevada to quit.
This victory did not come easily, and I have the Nevada ACS CAN staff and volunteers to thank for their tireless efforts that were instrumental in getting the $1.00 per pack tax increase passed. While the original proposal increased the tax by 40 cents per pack, we knew we needed to increase it because experience shows that the tobacco industry can offset such a modest tobacco tax increase easily with strategic discounting and coupon offers. So, ACS CAN staff and volunteers staged a major campaign that involved conducting meetings with lawmakers, writing letters to the editor for local papers and placing print ads and radio spots in Nevada's major media markets.
ACS CAN's annual Nevada Day at the Capitol on March 18 proved to be a key point in the legislative session, with volunteers traveling in from all corners of the state to urge their lawmakers to support this lifesaving measure. The state lobby day was the day we started gaining traction for the idea of a $1.00 increase with lawmakers, and by the end of the session, both chambers of the Nevada legislature cast supermajority votes in favor of the cigarette tax. The Senate officially adopted the tax on June 1, the final day of the session.
As in the case with any policy, there remains work to be done. Nevada missed an opportunity to raise tobacco taxes on non-cigarette tobacco products, and the state also has large unmet needs in terms of cancer and tobacco-related prevention programs and services. However for now, Nevada state policymakers have gone on the record addressing head on our nation's leading cause of preventable suffering and death cigarette use and we applaud them for their bold and decisive action.
We're hopeful that more states will realize the positive impact of tobacco tax increases, not only in lives saved, but money saved as well. Nevada state budget analysts estimated that new revenue from increasing the taxes on cigarettes is estimated to be more than $192 million in the first two years. Combined with at least $474 million in long-term health care cost savings from the cigarette tax, the increases are likely to have a tremendous positive impact both on the state budget and for reducing health care costs in Nevada. It's time for more states to take action to save lives and keep kids from using tobacco by passing significant tobacco tax increases.