Pennsylvania's Tobacco Tax Increase Will Save Lives, Reduce Health Care Costs and Raise Much-Needed Revenue

Statement by William V. Corr, Executive Vice President Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Jun. 27 2002

Washington, DC — Governor Mark Schweiker and the Pennsylvania Legislature have taken an important step toward protecting the state's kids and taxpayers from the devastating toll of tobacco by agreeing to increase the state's cigarette tax. Their budget agreement would increase the cigarette tax by 69 cents to $1.00 per pack and tax smokeless tobacco products for the first time in state history. This is a win-win-win solution for Pennsylvania that will reduce smoking among both kids and adults, save lives by reducing smoking-caused disease and raise much-needed revenue to help balance the state budget. In short, increasing the tobacco tax is the most important public health measure Pennsylvania will enact this year.

Pennsylvania can expect a 69-cent per pack cigarette tax increase to prevent some 190,000 kids alive today from becoming smokers, save 90,000 Pennsylvanians from smoking-caused deaths, produce $3.3 billion in long-term health care savings, and raise roughly $896 million a year in new revenue.

Pennsylvania voters strongly support a cigarette tax increase. A May poll released by public health groups found that three out of four Pennsylvania voters (75 percent) supported a $1.00 per pack increase. This support comes from Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

Tobacco's toll in Pennsylvania is devastating – 27.6 percent of youths currently smoke, and 38,100 more kids become regular, daily smokers every year, one-third of whom will die prematurely. Smoking-caused health care expenses and productivity losses cost Pennsylvania $7.9 billion a year. Pennsylvania's higher tobacco tax will reduce this terrible toll.

Pennsylvania joins a growing number of states that have increased their cigarette taxes in recent months, including Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington State. These measures have been approved by governors and legislatures of both political parties, as well as by voters in Washington, underscoring the broad political support for cigarette tax increases. By joining Pennsylvania in doing the right thing, the many other states currently debating cigarette tax increases can enjoy these benefits as well.

 

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