Utah Cigarette Tax Increase Delivers Victory for Kids and Taxpayers

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

Mar. 5 2010

Washington, D.C. — The Utah Legislature has taken decisive action to protect the state's kids and taxpayers from the devastating toll of tobacco use by increasing the state cigarette tax by $1.00 to $1.70 per pack. Increased tobacco taxes are a win-win-win solution for Utah – a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, a financial win that will help to balance the state budget and fund essential programs, and a political win that polls show is popular with the voters. We look forward to Governor Gary Herbert signing this legislation into law.

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 about 6.5 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. Utah can expect the $1.00 cigarette tax increase to prevent 10,500 Utah kids from becoming smokers; spur 5,500 current adult Utah smokers to quit; save more than 4,800 Utah residents from smoking-caused deaths; lock in $236 million in future health care savings; and raise about $43.3 million a year in new state revenue.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Utah, claiming 1,100 lives each year and costing the state $345 million annually in health care bills. While Utah has made significant progress in reducing youth smoking, 8.5 percent of Utah high school students smoke, and 5,700 kids try cigarettes for the first time each year.

With Utah's increase, the average state cigarette tax will be $1.38 per pack. We call on states across the nation to follow Utah's lead in significantly increasing the tobacco tax to reduce tobacco use and its devastating health and financial toll, as well as raise much-needed revenue to help close budget shortfalls.

 

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