Public Health Wins at the Polls as Oregon and Oklahoma Vote in Support of Strong Tobacco Control Measures
Statement of Lisa Lacasse, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – “Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death nationwide and is linked to at least 13 types of cancer. Reducing use of this deadly product is critical to our mission to end suffering and death from this disease. Given the industry’s known targeting of people with lower incomes, Black communities, American Indians, youth, and LGBTQ individuals, tobacco control efforts are also crucial to reduce cancer disparities in this country. That’s why ACS CAN actively worked to pass Measure 108 in Oregon to increase tobacco taxes and to defeat State Question 814 in Oklahoma that would divert funds dedicated to tobacco prevention and cessation.
“Oregonians made public health a priority in their vote by passing Measure 108 to raise the state’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack and tax e-cigarettes for the first time in the state. Research shows significantly increasing the tobacco tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use – and, as a result, tobacco-related disease, including cancer. Oregon will dedicate a portion of the additional revenue from these taxes to fund crucial tobacco prevention and cessation programs to help those who the tax increase will encourage to quit do so successfully. Funds from the tax will also provide access to health care for men, women and children with lower incomes on the Oregon Health Plan at a time when access to care is more important than ever. With Big Tobacco spending nearly $116.2 million in Oregon each year in marketing to lure new customers into a lifetime of addiction, Oregonians action to loosen Big Tobacco’s grip in their state is a major public health victory.
“With the passage of Measure 108 in Oregon, the state’s new cigarette tax will increase from $1.33 per pack, currently 32nd in the nation and below the national average, to $3.33 per pack, the highest on the West Coast and 6th highest in the nation. It will increase the national average cigarette tax to $1.86 when it takes effect on January 1.
“Oklahomans also put public health first as they voted to stop the legislature from diverting funds away from tobacco prevention and cessation programs in the state. The Tobacco Settlement Endowment (TSET) is key to a healthier Oklahoma. The program supports medically underserved areas by recruiting talented physicians through its loan repayment program, funding health care for rural Oklahomans, as well as supports critical cancer research happening locally in Oklahoma. TSET also operates the state’s quitline, which is one of the highest-rated quitlines in the nation and has served more than 400,000 Oklahomans looking for help to quit tobacco. Oklahoman’s vote to defeat State Question 814 will mean the endowment that funds TSET’s critical programs will not be weakened, protecting rural health care, local cancer research and tobacco control efforts. This vote shows Oklahoman’s desire to continue making public health a priority in their state.”