SANTA FE. NM– On Friday, Feb. 1, the Senate Public Affairs Committee will consider a proposal by Sen. Clemente Sanchez to increase the state’s cigarette tax by 34 cents per pack. The public health community – including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Lung Association, American Heart Association, New Mexico Allied Council on Tobacco, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Keres Consulting – opposes Sen. Sanchez’s proposal because it will not significantly improve the health of New Mexicans.
While we oppose this bill, we do welcome the opportunity this creates to consider how the state’s tobacco tax policy can provide significant health benefits in New Mexico while saving taxpayer costs.
“Increasing the cigarette tax by only 34 cents per pack will do little to change the burden that tobacco puts on New Mexico,” said Sandra Adondakis, government relations director for ACS CAN in New Mexico. “Research has proven that when tax increases are small, tobacco companies can absorb the price difference and offer coupons to shield smokers and young people from having to pay the increased cost. Simply put, pennies don’t save lives.”
To reduce the burden of tobacco-related disease in the state, the New Mexico’s legislature should increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack. A $1.50 per pack increase would lower smoking rates, keeping an estimated 6,100 youth from becoming smokers and helping more than 13,000 current adult smokers quit. In addition to these public health benefits, a $1.50 per pack increase would reduce long-term health care costs in the state by $461.5 million while also generating about $30.7 million in new revenue to address critical needs and save lives in New Mexico.
To ensure maximum health and revenue gains from a new cigarette tax, the tax on all other tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco, should be increased an equivalent amount. Equalizing applicable tax rates will prevent people from switching to lower-cost tobacco products. Lower-taxed products incentivize youth tobacco use and promote new generations of tobacco addiction among the most vulnerable New Mexicans.
Regular and significant increases in tobacco taxes are a proven way to prevent and reduce tobacco use and have been endorsed as a public health strategy by the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, policy experience in other states informs us that not all tobacco tax proposals produce equal health benefits, with larger tax increases that apply across-the-board to all tobacco products while also dedicating a revenue stream for tobacco use prevention and cessation programs providing the most reliable and effective means of decreasing tobacco use.
New Mexico’s current cigarette tax of $1.66 per pack lags behind much of the rest of the nation. The last time New Mexico raised its cigarette tax was in 2010. Since then, 36 other states and the District of Columbia increased their cigarette taxes one or more times.
About the New Mexico Allied Council on Tobacco
NMACT advocates for proven tobacco use prevention policies through statewide partnerships to reduce disease and death from commercial tobacco use. Learn more at newmexicoact.org
About the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network 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.
About the American Lung Association in New Mexico
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit our website: Lung.org.
About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association
The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
Keres Consulting, Inc. is a Native American-owned, New Mexico-based small business that cares about the impact of commercial tobacco in New Mexico’s tribal communities. It works to eliminate death and disease caused from commercial tobacco through commercial tobacco prevention, cessation and education in Native American communities throughout New Mexico.
About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.
# # #