Thursday, April 15, 2010

Death and Taxes: How One Can Reduce the Other

During “tax week” when we often hear people joke that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. However, it’s also true it that taxes can prevent deaths, at least according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on excise taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products!

This report, and other studies, show that one of the most effective tools to keeping cigarettes out of the hands of children and adults is to increase tobacco taxes as they directly affects the cost of a cigarette thus discouraging youths and young adults from picking up the habit, prompting more frequent attempts to quit, and reducing average cigarette consumption among those who continue to smoke.

With many states looking for ways to balance budgets and reduce deficits, increasing tobacco taxes are a great way to both promote public health and give individuals an added incentive to stop smoking. All states should look to raise their tobacco taxes, but we especially encourage the 30 states and territories that currently have a cigarette tax below $1.50 per pack to consider the benefits of a cigarette tax increase of at least $1.00 per pack.

The CDC report is another reminder for state and local legislators that tobacco tax increases bring long-lasting benefits with improved quality of life and a stronger fiscal environment. Legislators should not hesitate to do what’s best for their constituents.

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