We all win when smokers quit
To the Editor:
I have been following the debate recently in the pages of the Republican Eagle concerning a proposed increase in the state sales tax on tobacco products.
Many people jump to the conclusion that if smokers quit in response to a price increase, then sales tax revenue will also go down.
The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids has been following the results of tobacco tax increases for many years. Here is what they conclude after analyzing the sales tax data from states that have increased their tobacco sales tax.
"Significant tobacco tax increases always produce substantial net new revenues.
"In every single instance where a state has passed a significant cigarette tax increase, the state has enjoyed a substantial increase to its state cigarette tax revenues, well above what they would have received absent any rate increase.
"This occurs, despite significant declines in smoking rates and taxed pack sales, because the increased tax per pack brings in much more new revenue than is lost by the declines in the number of taxed packs." (Source: The fact sheet can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org)
Surveys have shown that most smokers want to quit.
The recent increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes and the resulting surge in calls to stop-smoking programs clearly demonstrated that government can play an effective role in helping smokers quit.
Currently, we all pay the price for tobacco because it is one of the factors driving up everyone's health care costs. According to a report from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, smoking costs our state nearly $2 billion in health care costs each year.
If we can bring in more revenue to fund health care and also give smokers the added motivation they need to quit, then everyone wins.