Governor Perdue's Historic Proposal Will Reduce Smoking and Save Lives in North Carolina

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Mar. 17 2009

Washington, D.C. — We applaud Governor Bev Perdue for her leadership and foresight in announcing a plan to combat the No. 1 preventable cause of death and disease in North Carolina — tobacco use. Governor Perdue has proposed a solution that will improve both the physical and financial health of North Carolina for generations to come by reducing smoking, saving lives and reducing smoking-caused healthcare costs. Governor Perdue’s proposal will deliver the maximum health and economic benefits for North Carolina by preventing kids from smoking, helping smokers quit and generating millions in new revenue for the state.

Governor Perdue's proposal calls for increasing the state's cigarette tax by $1 per pack. North Carolina currently ranks 46th in the nation with a tax of 35 cents a pack. The Governor's proposal will also improve health and raise revenue by increasing the tax on other tobacco products from 10 percent of the wholesale price to 28 percent.

This is a win-win-win solution for the state that will reduce tobacco use, save lives and generate much-needed revenue. A $1 per pack cigarette tax increase will produce a 17 percent decline in youth smoking, keep nearly 90,000 North Carolina kids from becoming addicted smokers, prevent more than 44,000 North Carolina adults from suffering a premature smoking-caused death, save $2.1 billion in long-term health care costs related to smoking, and generate more than $300 million in new revenue to ease North Carolina’s budget crisis.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in North Carolina, claiming more than 12,000 lives each year and costing the state $2.46 billion annually in health care bills, including $769 million in Medicaid payments alone. Government expenditures related to tobacco amount to a hidden tax of $578 each year on every North Carolina household. Currently, 19 percent of North Carolina high school students smoke, and 11,800 more kids become regular smokers every year.

We look forward to the Governor and Legislature working together to pass a $1 cigarette tax increase and also increase the tax on other tobacco products.

 

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