Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

April 11th, 2013:

President’s Plan to Increase Tobacco Tax Will Protect Kids and Save Lives Meanwhile Hong Kong moves backwards in tobacco control with an absence of political will to save lives Inbox x

Published on International Business Times (

President’s Plan to Increase Tobacco Tax Will Protect Kids and Save Lives

By IBTimes Staff Reporter | April 10 2013 2:22 PM

President’s Plan to Increase Tobacco Tax Will Protect Kids and Save Lives

April 10 2013 2:22 PM ET

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following is a statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

(Logo: )

President Obama today has taken bold action to protect our children from tobacco addiction and save lives by proposing to increase the federal cigarette tax by US 94 cents per pack and similarly increase taxes on other tobacco products.  We urge Congress to support this proposal, which would have as great an impact in reducing tobacco use among kids as any action the federal government has taken.  It would be a giant step toward winning the fight against tobacco, the nation’s number one cause of preventable death.

On top of the health benefits, the proposed tobacco tax increases would raise $78.1 billion over 10 years to fund early childhood education initiatives proposed by the President, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Study after study has shown that increasing the tobacco tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking and other tobacco use, especially among kids.  Even tobacco companies admit in their own documents that tobacco tax increases reduce youth smoking, which is why they vehemently oppose them.  Economic research has found that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by six or seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by three to five percent.

The health and economic benefits of a federal tobacco tax increase were confirmed in a 2012 report by the highly respected Congressional Budget Office.  The CBO found that a 50-cent increase in the federal tobacco tax would raise substantial new revenue while prompting nearly 1.4 million adult smokers to quit by 2021, saving tens of thousands of lives and reducing health care costs, including for the Medicaid program. Based on the CBO’s statement that a $1 tax increase would roughly double those benefits, we estimate that a 94-cent cigarette tax increase would prompt 2.6 million adult smokers to quit and save 18,000 lives by 2021.

In addition to these gains from helping current smokers quit, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids estimates that a 94-cent increase in the federal cigarette tax would:

•Prevent 1.7 million kids from becoming addicted adult smokers

•Prevent 626,000 premature deaths from these reductions in youth smoking alone

•Save $42 billion in future health care costs from these reductions in youth smoking.

The increased taxes on other tobacco products would have additional health benefits, preventing kids from using harmful and addictive products such as cheap, sweet cigars and smokeless tobacco.

These benefits are also evident from the most recent increase in the federal tobacco tax, a 62-cent per pack increase enacted in 2009.  As a result, cigarette sales declined by 8.3 percent in 2009 – the largest drop since 1932.  Health economists at the University of Illinois at Chicago found an immediate decline in youth smoking after the 2009 increase – the percentage of students who reported smoking in the past 30 days dropped between 9.7 percent and 13.3 percent (reducing the number of youth smokers by more than 220,000).  In the 12 months after the increase (April 2009 to March 2010), federal cigarette tax revenue increased by 129 percent (from $6.8 billion to $15.5 billion), even as cigarette sales declined.

Furthermore, national and state polls consistently show strong public support for substantial increases in tobacco taxes, with most polls showing voters favoring tobacco tax increases by more than a two-to-one margin.  Polls consistently have found that large majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents and voters from a broad range of demographic and ethnic groups all support tobacco tax increases – as do significant numbers of smokers.

In short, a significant tobacco tax increase is a win-win-win for the country – a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, a financial win that will raise revenue to fund an important initiative and reduce tobacco-related health care costs, and a political win that is popular with voters.

The President’s proposal is exactly the shot in the arm needed to accelerate progress in reducing tobacco use, which kills more than 400,000 Americans and costs the nation $96 billion in health care bills each year.  While the nation has greatly reduced smoking, 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke and nearly 1,000 kids become new regular smokers each day.  Tobacco companies spend $8.5 billion – nearly $1 million each hour – to market their deadly products, often in ways that appeal to kids.

The tobacco tax proposal builds on other important actions the Administration has taken, including FDA regulations to stop tobacco marketing and sales to kids, the government’s first-ever national media campaign to prevent and reduce smoking, and expanded insurance coverage and assistance to help smokers quit.  Continuation of these initiatives, along with enactment of the proposed tobacco tax increase, can help create a future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

.Source URL:

How Obama’s tobacco tax would drive down smoking rates

By Sarah Kliff, Updated: April 11, 2013

President Obama’s proposal to nearly double the federal tobacco tax would help fund a universal pre-K program. And, if history is any guide, it would likely have a marked impact on driving down the country’s smoking rates.

“Increasing the price of tobacco is the single most effective way to discourage kids from smoking,” CDC director Tom Frieden told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “We estimate this would result in at least 230,000 fewer kids smoking than would have smoked if the tobacco tax does not go into effect.”

Researchers have conducted over 100 studies that have “clearly and consistently demonstrated that higher cigarette and other tobacco product prices reduce tobacco use,” Frank Chaloupka, a professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, writes. While tobacco is an addictive substance, demand tends to be surprisingly elastic: Price increases have reliably shown to decrease cigarette purchases.

The Congressional Budget Office recently looked at what would happen if the country implemented a 50-cent per pack tax on cigarettes. It estimates, given the research we have on tobacco taxes, that the price increase would lead to 1.4 million fewer smokers by 2021.

smoking tax

Many of those gains would be concentrated among younger Americans, who would take up smoking at lower rates:

A few years after the hypothetical tax increase took effect, the number of 12- to 17-year-olds who smoked cigarettes would be about 5 percent lower than it would be otherwise, the number of 18-year-old smokers would be 4.5 percent lower, the number of 19- to 39-year-old smokers would be almost 4 percent lower, and the number of smokers age 40 or older would be about 1.5 percent lower.

The CBO data suggests that a cigarette tax is more successful at reducing tobacco use among shorter-term smokers, vs. older Americans who may have been smokers for a longer period of time.

Even among those who don’t fully quit, tobacco taxes do appear to effect the intensity of smoking. A 2012 study in the journal Tobacco Control interviewed thousands of smokers over a time period where states increased their tobacco taxes. It found that the most intense smokers — those who smoked 40 or more cigarettes per day — saw the steepest decline in cigarette consumption.

cigarette tax

“The dramatic reductions in daily smoking might be driven,at least in part, by heavier smokers’ desire to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke per day,” lead study author Patricia A Cavazos-Rehg writes. “This could be because of their comorbid health problems and/or advice from influential persons (eg, doctors/friends/family) to try to quit and/or reduce smoking.”

© The Washington Post Company