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Amidst Budget Crisis, ACS CAN Eager to Pass Legislation That Would Protect Kids from Big Tobacco and Raise Over $425 Million in Annual Revenue

Saving Lives and State Dollars Lost As a Result of Tobacco’s Influence

January 22, 2020

ATLANTA, GA – January 22, 2020 – Amidst the state budget crisis, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is pursuing legislation that will generate $425.18 million in new annual revenue and reduce health care costs for the state.

ACS CAN is urging the Georgia Assembly to increase the state’s tobacco tax to $1.87 per cigarette pack paralleled with an increase in the tax on all other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 39% of the wholesale price.

“Such a tax increase on all forms of tobacco would mark a major health and fiscal win for our state,” shared ACS CAN Government Relations Director Andy Freeman. “Resolving the budget deficit and addressing the highest tobacco use rate in 20 years remain a top priority for our lawmakers this session. The significant increase would mark a vital step in effectively addressing these issues and reducing tobacco’s deadly toll in Georgia.”

The economic and public health benefits from an increased tobacco tax to $1.87 tax are staggering. With annual health expenditures in Georgia directly caused by tobacco use totaling $3.18 billion, the increased tobacco tax would save approximately $1.84 billion in long-term health care costs due to youth and adult smoking declines. In just 5 years, the state would save $8.29 million in Medicaid cost.

Georgia’s tobacco tax hasn’t been raised in over 15 years, when cigarettes cost $3.72 per pack. Today, the state holds the third lowest tobacco tax in the country at a mere 37 cents per pack.

“Our cheap price fails to adequately protect our youth from tobacco’s deadly implications,” added Freeman. “Due to the popularity of e-cigarettes, the youth tobacco epidemic grows worse by the day. A tobacco tax increase to $1.87 is a proven part of a comprehensive strategy that will adequately prevent youth initiation and prompt 59,700 current adults who smoke to quit.”

According to a recent poll by the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, roughly 77% of voters said that taxes on tobacco should be increased to cover spending and education. Eighty-percent agreed that tobacco taxes should be increased overall.

“The health of Georgians continues to suffer at the hands of Big Tobacco,” concluded Freeman. “A significant tobacco tax increase to $1.87 per pack would hit their pockets, prevent over 24,000 premature smoking deaths and ultimately allow our state legislature to resolve our fiscal crisis.”

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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.

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