Jul. 10 2002
Washington, DC — The Michigan Legislature has taken an important step toward protecting the state's kids from the deadly lure of tobacco by voting to increase the state cigarette tax by 50 cents. However, the Legislature missed a tremendous opportunity to do even more to protect Michigan's kids by again failing to use its tobacco settlement money to fund a comprehensive tobacco prevention program. While the state's minimal non-settlement funding for tobacco prevention was restored in this budget, Michigan could do much more by funding tobacco prevention through its tobacco settlement dollars. An initiative before Michigan voters in November would protect the state's kids and taxpayers from the terrible toll of tobacco by, among other things, providing $45 million a year in tobacco settlement funding for tobacco prevention.
The cigarette tax increase is a win-win-win solution for Michigan that will reduce smoking and the death, disease and millions in health care costs that result, while raising much-needed revenue. Michigan can expect a 50-cent per pack cigarette tax increase to prevent some 66,000 kids alive today from becoming smokers, save 30,000 Michigan residents from smoking-caused deaths, produce $1.1 billion in long-term health care savings, and raise roughly $343 million a year in new revenue.
Increasing the cigarette tax is a first step if Michigan is to succeed in reducing smoking and the devastation it causes. To achieve a sustained, long-term reduction in smoking, Michigan must also fund a comprehensive, statewide tobacco prevention program at the minimum level of $54.8 million a year recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That was the promise of the tobacco settlement, which Michigan's leaders so far have failed to keep. If approved, the Healthy Michigan Amendment would fund a tobacco prevention program at a level approaching CDC's minimum recommendation.
We have conclusive evidence that comprehensive tobacco prevention programs work to protect kids, save lives and save money. States that have implemented such programs have reduced youth smoking from 36 percent to 47 percent, depending on the age group, in just a few short years. Massachusetts and California are saving up to $3 for every dollar spent on tobacco prevention. Michigan will realize similar benefits if its leaders properly fund and implement a comprehensive tobacco prevention program.
Tobacco's toll in Michigan is devastating – 27.6 percent of youths currently smoke, and 31,000 more kids become regular, daily smokers every year, one-third of whom will die prematurely. Smoking-caused health care expenses and productivity losses cost Michigan $6 billion a year.
Michigan becomes the eighteenth state to have increased its cigarette tax in recent months, including Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, 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.