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As States Draft Budgets, Higher Tobacco Taxes Offer Health and Financial Wins

January 28, 2013

Tobacco tax increases are a win-win-win solution for states — a health win that reduces smoking and saves lives, a financial win that raises revenue and reduces tobacco-related health care costs, and a political win because tobacco taxes have the strong support of the public.

Aware of these many benefits, governors and state lawmakers across the country are proposing higher tobacco taxes as they begin writing budgets for the coming year.

States considering tobacco tax increases include the following:

  • In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick last week included a $1 cigarette tax increase and equalization of the tax on other tobacco products in his budget proposal. While welcoming the governor’s proposal, health advocates are urging a $1.25 increase to achieve even greater health and revenue benefits.

  • In Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton proposed a 94-cent cigarette tax increase in his budget. Raise It for Health, a coalition of Minnesota’s leading health and nonprofit organizations, applauded the proposal and urged lawmakers to enact a significant tobacco tax increase. “Raising the price of tobacco will drive thousands of current Minnesota smokers to quit and prevent the next generation from becoming addicted adults,” the coalition stated.

  • In Wyoming, the Tobacco Use Prevention coalition is working to raise the cigarette tax by $1 per pack. The House Revenue Committee has passed the legislation, and it is headed to the House floor. Legislation is also expected to increase the tax on other tobacco products in order to reduce all tobacco use.

The evidence is clear is that increasing the tobacco tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking and other tobacco use, especially among kids. That’s why health advocates strongly support tobacco tax increases and why tobacco companies strongly oppose them.

State leaders should side with kids over Big Tobacco and enact significant increases in tobacco taxes.