SALEM, Ore.— The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) urges Oregon lawmakers to support a proposed tobacco tax increase that will help reduce tobacco use, save lives, lower health care costs and raise revenue. At a public hearing on April 10 and April 11, cancer advocates will share personal stories and testimony about the devastating impact of tobacco use on their families, including losing fathers and other loved ones from tobacco-related cancers.
Lawmakers are considering House Bill 2270 to raise the price of cigarettes by $2 per pack and increase the tax on electronic cigarettes by an equal amount. The tax will help fund the state’s Medicaid program. Revenue will also help fund critical tobacco prevention and cessation programs in the state.
"Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in our state," said Christopher Friend, Oregon government relations director for ACS CAN. "This year alone, 7,500 Oregonians will die from smoking, which also causes about 28% of cancer deaths in the state. We know that one of the most effective ways to help people quit and keep young people from starting is by making all tobacco products significantly more expensive with regular tax increases."
According to projections from ACS CAN, a $2 per pack cigarette tax increase would help 31,300 adults quit smoking. It would prevent more than 19,000 Oregon kids under age 18 from becoming daily smokers and reduce overall youth smoking rates by nearly 21%. Additionally, 13,700 lives would be saved from a premature death.
The revenue from the $2 cigarette tax increase would also be significant, generating nearly $173 million in new annual revenue while reducing health care costs. In fact, as smoking rates decrease from a $2 cigarette tax increase, the state would see about $1.02 billion in long-term health care cost savings.
"Oregon’s current cigarette tax is ranked 32nd in the nation and falls below the national average," Friend added. "We also don’t tax e-cigarettes, which are rampant in our schools, and we have not raised the tobacco tax by a large enough amount to reduce smoking since 2002. It’s time we reestablish ourselves as a leader in the fight against tobacco."
Following this week’s public hearings, House Bill 2270 will be scheduled for a vote in the House Revenue Committee before being considering for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org