Pricing smokers out of the tobacco habit is the best way to improve public health and cut off the disturbing number of young people turning to the cancer-causing death sticks. However, a new report points out the sad fact that a lot fewer states are raising the local excise taxes on tobacco, than used to.
3 years ago, 15 states raised the excise duty on tobacco products, but in the succeeding 2 years only 8 states continued the trend, while New Hampshire actually cut it The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, who issued the report also tell us what we all know, in that taxing cigarettes reduces effective demand because many more people, especially the less well off young adults canâ€™t afford the habit. It is especially effective in preventing youngsters from getting the habit in the first instance.
[box type=”important”]The Surgeon General of the US tells us in a recent report that 20% of teenagers are still smoking, the proportion is shrinking but the rate at which that is happening to be getting slower. This is the very social trend that makes the slackening of excise duty at the state level worrying for anyone concerned with public health.[/box]
$1.34 on each pack of cigarettes was the national tobacco excise in â€˜09 and that increased significantly to $1.46 in â€˜11. New York state was way ahead of the pack with the highest excise level, $4.35 per pack, while Missouri brings up the tail end with just 17 cents per pack. The founder and chairman of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Joseph Califano Jr. likes the New York price point of $10.50 per pack but says it should be $100, to really deter youth smoking. But why are the states pulling back on the excise duty lever?
The decline is concerning public health specialists and seems to be going hand in hand with a cut in funding to other prevention initiatives. This does not make economic sense. There is a lot of evidence to say that prevention and taxes work in promoting both public health and state finances with a good return on their investment. However, public officials seem incapable of learning the lessons of prevention.
California is a prime example. In â€˜88, the Sacramento administration raised tobacco excise and spent around 5 cents per pack on â€˜quit smokingâ€™ education and other programs. This investment went side by side with an $86 billion reduction in health care costs for a total $1.8 billion spend. Unfortunately, California today is surprisingly one of three states that have not raised the tobacco excise rate since 2000. Missouri and North Dakota are the other two.
CDC Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign
The bad news on prevention coincides with a new CDC anti-smoking ad campaign. A hard-hitting testimonial campaign from reformed smokers who have been, sometimes grotesquely deformed by the effects of long-term tobacco use. The top five states for preventive tobacco excise taxes are; New York ($4.35), Rhode Island ($3.46), Connecticut ($3.40), Hawaii ($3.20) and Washington ($3.025) At the other end of the spectrum are; Missouri ($0.17), Virginia ($0.30), Louisiana ($0.36), Georgia ($0.37) and Alabama