Governor Graves' Proposal to… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Governor Graves' Proposal to Increase Kansas' Cigarette Tax Will Save Lives, Reduce Health Care Costs and Raise Much-Needed Revenue

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

Washington, DC — We applaud Kansas Governor Bill Graves (R) for his leadership in proposing to increase the state's cigarette tax by 65 cents to 89 cents a pack. The Governor's farsighted plan is a win-win solution for Kansas that will reduce smoking among kids and adults while raising much-needed revenue, part of which will be used to boost tobacco prevention spending. Governor Graves' proposal should be quickly approved by the Legislature

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. 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.

Tobacco's toll in Kansas is devastating — 26.1 percent of high school students currently smoke, and 7,000 more kids become regular, daily smokers every year, one-third of whom will die prematurely. Smoking-caused health care expenses costs Kansas and its taxpayers $634 million a year.

Unfortunately, Kansas is spending only $500,000 of its tobacco settlement funds on tobacco prevention, which is just 2.8 percent of the minimum amount recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So it is critical that Kansas legislators not only increase the cigarette tax, but also follow through in allocating a significant share for tobacco prevention. Kansas' Legislature should seize the opportunity presented by cigarette tax increases to solve both the public health and budgetary challenges they face.