Palm Springs, CA
It’s no April Fool’s joke: Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in California, with an estimated 40,000 Californians dying each year from smoking-related diseases. The new $2 per pack tobacco tax increase takes effect tomorrow and is projected to reduce youth smoking rates in California by at least 23 percent, as well as motivate some 265,000 adult smokers to quit.
The $2 per pack cigarette tax includes an equivalent increase on products containing nicotine derived from tobacco and, for the first time, taxes the nicotine in e-cigarettes, which are increasing in usage among teens in California.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Lung Association (ALA) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have joined forces to encourage those who are wanting to quit do so and put out the word there is help available to end tobacco addiction. The state’s 800-NO-BUTTS (1-800-662-8887) quit line is a good place to start. For additional resources, go to www.cancer.orgfor the American Cancer Society’s guide to quitting smoking. If you want to help a smoker quit, check out the Dos & Don’ts for family and friends. Quit tips are also available at www.lung.org/stop-smoking.
“Behind the overwhelming success of Proposition 56 is the desire to save lives,” said ACS CAN California Vice President Jim Knox. “Tobacco kills and after witnessing the tobacco industry spend more than $210 million to squash two ballot measures and 11 legislative attempts in the past 10 years, voters said enough is enough and passed the highest single state tax increase ever levied on cigarettes in the nation.”
In every state that has significantly raised its cigarette tax, pack sales have decreased sharply. According to the US Surgeon General, the World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine, raising the price of tobacco is the single most effective way to reduce tobacco use.
“Today, California takes a big step forward in efforts to reduce smoking rates, especially among teens. We no longer have one of the lowest tobacco tax rates in the country and that will encourage people to quit smoking and prevent teens from ever picking up this deadly habit. Ultimately, this tax increase will save lives in California,” said President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California Olivia Diaz-Lapham.
California’s tobacco control program will receive an estimated $120 million annually from the new tax, which will go to re-invigorate the state’s successful tobacco prevention and education program that has been credited with averting more than a million premature deaths and saving more than $138 billion in health care costs since its inception 28 years ago.
Proposition 56 will more than triple this program’s funding, which has been eroding for decades and has declined to the point that it is now at only 17 percent of the level recommend by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This increase in the price of tobacco products will save lives. It is a win…win….win. It will reduce the number of youth who become addicted to tobacco, increase the number of people who are able to quit smoking, and lessen the tragic and costly burden of death and disease that our state has borne for too long,” said David Lee, MD, American Heart Association Western States Affiliate Board President.
Taxpayers come out ahead with passage of Prop 56. California spends $3.5 billion each year on smoking-related health care costs through Medi-Cal. That’s $413 per family, whether you smoke or not. The increase in tobacco tax revenue will also go toward offsetting a portion of Medi-Cal costs.