Oct. 3 2007
Washington, D.C. — President Bush today let down America’s children and protected the interests of the tobacco industry by vetoing legislation that would increase the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents per pack to help fund the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The President has missed an opportunity not only to expand health care coverage for children, but also to take effective action to reduce tobacco use, the nation’s leading preventable cause of death. We urge the Congress to override this veto. This legislation has strong, bipartisan support in Congress and the overwhelming support of the American people because it will improve children’s health, reduce smoking and save lives.
A higher cigarette tax is a win-win-win solution for the country – a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, a financial win that will raise revenue to help fund the SCHIP program and reduce tobacco-caused health care costs, and a political win that is popular with voters. A recent poll conducted for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids found that 67 percent of voters support a 75-cent per pack increase in the federal cigarette tax to provide health coverage to uninsured children, while only 28 percent oppose it.
Increasing the cigarette tax is a proven strategy to reduce smoking, especially among children. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by 7 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. A 61-cent increase in the federal cigarette tax will prevent almost 1.9 million kids from becoming regular smokers, help almost 1.2 million adult smokers quit, prevent more than 900,000 smoking-caused deaths and produce $43.9 billion in long-term health care savings.
Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people in the United States each year and costs more than $96 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, about 23 percent of high school students smoke and more than 1,000 kids become new regular smokers every day.
The national poll of 1,000 registered voters was conducted by the Mellman Group May 29- June 3, 2007 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.