Jun. 26 2007
Washington, DC — Connecticut’s leaders have taken an important step to protect kids and taxpayers from the devastating toll of tobacco use by increasing the state cigarette tax by 49 cents to $2.00 a pack. A higher cigarette tax is a win-win-win solution for Connecticut – a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, a financial win that will raise revenue to fund education, health care and other important programs, and a political win that polls show is popular with the voters. We applaud Governor M. Jodi Rell and legislative leaders for reaching agreement on this life-saving proposal.
Connecticut is the eighth state to increase its cigarette tax to $2.00 or more per pack. We urge Connecticut’s neighbors in the Northeast to step up their efforts to reduce tobacco use and save lives by increasing their cigarette taxes as well. Massachusetts and Maine currently are considering cigarette tax increases. New Hampshire last week approved a 28-cent per pack cigarette tax increase.
The evidence is clear that increasing the cigarette tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by about four percent. Connecticut can expect the 42-cent cigarette tax increase to prevent some 15,600 Connecticut kids alive today from smoking, save 1,700 Connecticut residents from smoking-caused deaths, produce more than $336 million in long-term health care savings, and raise about $50 million a year in new revenue.
While the cigarette tax increase is an important step forward, Connecticut can achieve even greater reductions in smoking by investing more of its tobacco-generated revenue in programs to keep kids from smoking and help smokers quit. With the new cigarette tax, Connecticut will collect more than $400 million a year in revenue from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes. It would take just $21.2 million of this amount for Connecticut to fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at minimum levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but Connecticut has been spending less than one-tenth of what is needed. Connecticut has already implemented two of the three most effective state policies to reduce tobacco use with its high cigarette tax and strong smoke-free workplace law. By also implementing the third key policy, a well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation program, Connecticut can have the maximum impact in reducing tobacco’s devastating toll in health, lives and money.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Connecticut, claiming more than 4,900 lives each year and costing the state $1.63 billion annually in health care bills, including $430 million in Medicaid payments alone. Government expenditures related to tobacco amount to a hidden tax of $684 each year on every Connecticut household. Currently, 18.1 percent of Connecticut high school students smoke, and 4,800 more kids become regular smokers every year.
With the Connecticut cigarette tax increase, the average state cigarette tax will be $1.056 per pack. Since January 1, 2002, 43 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have increased cigarette taxes, some more than once. There are now eight states with cigarette taxes of $2 or more and 24 states with cigarette taxes of $1 or more. Chicago has the nation’s highest combined state and local cigarette tax at $3.66 per pack. The seven states that have not increased cigarette taxes since January 1, 2002, are California (87 cents a pack, last increased 1/1/99), Florida (33.9 cents, last increased 7/1/90), Mississippi (18 cents, last increased 6/1/85), Missouri (17 cents, last increased 10/1/93), North Dakota (44 cents, last increased 7/1/93), South Carolina (7 cents, last increased 7/1/77) and Wisconsin (77 cents, last increased 10/1/01).