Apr. 8 2009
Columbus, Ohio — All tobacco products — including spit and chew tobacco and flavored little cigars — are addictive and harm health, and should be taxed at the same rate as cigarettes in Ohio, according to a radio advertising campaign launched today by a coalition of public health organizations.
The radio ad began airing this week on stations across Ohio and continues for two weeks. According to the ad, if all tobacco products were taxed at the same rate as cigarettes, the higher prices would discourage youth tobacco use. In addition, it will raise revenue to fund critical programs to keep kids from using tobacco and help current tobacco users quit — programs that were cut from the state budget last year. Currently in Ohio, other tobacco products are taxed at less than half the rate of taxes on cigarettes. Listen to the ad.
The funds generated by equalizing the tax on all tobacco products, an estimated $50 million a year, would be dedicated to the Ohio Department of Health for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
"By increasing the tax on other tobacco products to match the state tax rate on cigarettes, Ohio will reduce all tobacco use among kids, save lives, and improve the physical and financial health of the state," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The products that would be taxed at the same rates as cigarettes include "little cigars," which look like cigarettes and are often blatantly aimed at children. They are cheaper and more affordable to kids than regular cigarettes because they have lower excise tax rates and they are often sold individually rather than in packs because their classification exempts them from state laws setting minimum pack sizes for cigarettes. Most insidiously, they often have candy and fruit flavors, such as chocolate, vanilla, raspberry, cherry and cinnamon.
As with cigarettes, raising the price of smokeless and other types of tobacco products through state tax increases will prompt a reduction in use, especially among adolescents and young adults. For example, one study found that a 10 percent increase in smokeless tobacco prices reduces adult consumption by 3.7 percent and reduces male youth consumption by 5.9 percent, with two-thirds of that reduction coming from kids stopping any use of smokeless tobacco at all.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the Ohio, killing more than 18,500 people and costing the state $4.3 billion in health care bills each year. In Ohio, 17 percent of high school males use smokeless tobacco, and 23.7 percent smoke cigarettes. About 90 percent of adult smokers begin in their teens or earlier. Every year, another 18,000 Ohio kids become regular, daily smokers, and one-third of them will die prematurely as a result.
The ad campaign is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in cooperation with the Tobacco-Free Youth Coalition, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.