Statement: President Clinton’s… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Statement: President Clinton’s Proposed Tobacco Tax Increase

Statement by Bill Novelli, President and Matthew L. Myers, Executive Vice President and General Counsel
September 08, 1999

Washington, DC - The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS supports the President’s call to increase the federal tax on tobacco products this year in order to reduce tobacco use among youth. We urge Congress to take action -- protecting kids against tobacco addiction should not be a partisan issue.

In study after study, increases in tobacco prices have been shown to decrease tobacco use, particularly among young people. Recent estimates indicate that every 10 percent increase in the real price of cigarettes reduces the prevalence of teen smoking by seven percent. The tobacco industry’s own internal documents reveal that it knows that price increases drive down youth smoking. This is the surest way to cut youth tobacco use and save lives and money down the road.

Congress has failed to enact legislation to protect American youth from tobacco. Despite the fact that smoking among high school seniors reached a 19-year high of 36.5 percent in 1997 and is currently at 35.1 percent, Congress has not acted. Meanwhile, costs from tobacco-caused disease are draining funds from the federal treasury. Tobacco-related health care costs in the U.S. total more than $70 billion each year, and the federal government pays for approximately one-third or more of these costs. While Congress has avoided its responsibility, Big Tobacco’s campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures are soaring.

We urge Congress to take action this year to protect kids from tobacco by raising the federal tobacco tax.