May. 17 2004
Washington, DC — Alabama’s leaders have taken an important step toward protecting the state’s kids and taxpayers from the devastating toll of tobacco by increasing the state cigarette tax by 26 cents, to 42.5 cents per pack. While an even higher cigarette tax would have delivered even greater benefits, the cigarette tax increase is a win-win-win solution for Alabama 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. Alabama can expect a 26-cent per pack cigarette tax increase to prevent some 18,000 kids alive today from becoming smokers, save 8,100 Alabamians from smoking-caused deaths, produce $306.8 million in long-term health care savings, and raise roughly $90 million a year in new revenue.
Alabama becomes the 33rd state, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to increase its cigarette tax since January 1, 2002. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by three to five percent. Preliminary evidence confirms every state that has significantly increased its cigarette tax in recent years has enjoyed substantial increases in revenue, even while reducing cigarette sales.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Alabama, killing 7,400 people and costing Alabama taxpayers $1.17 billion in health care costs each year. 23.7 percent of high school students currently smoke, and 13,000 more kids become regular, daily smokers every year, one-third of whom will die prematurely. Alabama’s higher cigarette tax will help reduce this terrible toll.