New York Sets Example for Other… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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New York Sets Example for Other States By Increasing Cigarette Tax to Nation's Highest

Statement by Matthew L. Myers President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
January 16, 2002

Washington, DC — We applaud New York Governor George Pataki (R) and the state Legislature for their leadership in increasing the state's cigarette tax by 39 cents to $1.50 a pack, the highest in the nation. This is a win-win solution for New York that will reduce smoking among kids and adults while raising much-needed revenue to improve health care services. Governor Pataki and New York lawmakers have sent a powerful message to other states that increasing the cigarette tax is an effective, bipartisan solution to both the fiscal and public health challenges they face.

In recent weeks, a growing number of governors from across the political spectrum, including Governors Pataki in New York, Bill Graves in Kansas (R), Jesse Ventura in Minnesota (I), and Frank O'Bannon (D) in Indiana, have proposed increasing cigarette taxes. Other states, including Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont, are also considering cigarette tax increases.

These proposals reflect a growing consensus among the nation's elected leaders that increasing cigarette taxes is good public health policy, good fiscal policy and good politics. Numerous studies show that increasing cigarette taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking among both youth and adults. These studies conclude that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes will reduce youth smoking by seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by three to five percent. In recent years, many states have raised cigarette tax rates, and in every case, they have reduced cigarette consumption while increasing revenues to balance budgets and fund vital programs. These states are also reducing the millions they spend each year on tobacco-related medical costs.

In addition, as demonstrated by Washington state voters' overwhelming approval in November of a 60-cent cigarette tax increase, increasing the cigarette tax is politically popular as well. Elected officials across the nation should seize the opportunity presented by cigarette tax increases to solve both the public health and budgetary challenges they face.