Feb. 26 2008
Washington, D.C. — A coalition of public health organizations has launched a newspaper and radio advertising campaign in support of House Bill 443, which would increase Kentucky’s cigarette tax by 70 cents per pack, reduce smoking and generate more than $200 million in new revenue to help balance the budget and fund vital health care programs.
Health advocates are urging Kentucky lawmakers to support House Bill 443, sponsored by Representative David Watkins. Increasing the cigarette tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among children. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by about 7 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have increased cigarette taxes since January 1, 2002, some more than once, bringing the average state cigarette tax to $1.112 a pack. Kentucky’s current cigarette tax is only 30 cents per pack, ranking it 47th lowest in the nation.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kentucky can expect a 70-cent increase in the state cigarette tax to:
The ad campaign is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association of Kentucky, American Heart Association, Kentucky Youth Advocates and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. View and listen to the ads.
“By increasing the cigarette tax to fund tobacco prevention and other vital health initiatives, House Bill 443 will deliver significant health and economic benefits that Kentucky residents need and deserve,” said William V. Corr, Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We urge Kentucky’s leaders to support this worthwhile legislation, which will prevent kids from smoking, improve health in Kentucky and save taxpayers money by reducing smoking-caused health care costs.”
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In Kentucky, tobacco claims 7,700 lives each year and costs the state $1.5 billion annually in health care bills, including $487 million in Medicaid payments alone. Currently, 28.6 percent of Kentucky adults smoke, which is the highest smoking rate in the country. Government expenditures related to tobacco amount to a hidden tax of $601 every year on every Kentucky household. Nearly 25 percent of Kentucky high school students smoke, and 7,600 more kids become smokers every year.