I want to applaud the Charleston Gazette-Mail for its recent editorial related to the need to increase the state’s tobacco tax. As a parent, I do everything I can to protect my daughter and make sure she has all the tools she needs to make the right life choices. I know she knows how dangerous tobacco is, and how the industry targets and manipulates people to line their own pockets.
But I worry that’s not enough. In West Virginia, 1,800 youth become daily smokers every year. With all of the external pressures out there, parents need a little help to deter kids from using these deadly products.
That’s exactly why Governor Tomblin and our legislative leaders need to get behind an effort to increase our tobacco tax by at least $1. Raising the price of tobacco products is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, especially vulnerable populations like youth, pregnant women, and low-income smokers.
If the tobacco tax is increased by $1.25 a pack, it will raise much needed revenue of approximately $142.36 million for the State of West Virginia. In addition here are some other benefits as well:
• The percentage decrease in youth smoking will be at least 14.5%.
• At least 13,100 youth under the age of 18 will not become adult smokers.
• A tobacco tax increase would result in approximately 16,500 current adult smokers who would quit.
• Over 8,300 premature smoking-caused deaths will be prevented.
• The five-year cost savings from fewer smoking-caused lung cancer cases would be over $2.86 million.
• The five-year health care cost savings from fewer smoking-affected pregnancies and births would be over $8.01 million.
• The five-year health care cost savings from fewer smoking-caused heart attacks and strokes would be $6.16 million.
• The five-year Medicaid program savings for the state would be $2.36 million.
• The long-term health care cost savings from adult and youth smoking declines would be over $579.63 million.
Currently, the annual health care expenditures in West Virginia directly caused by tobacco are over $1 billion. Raising the tobacco tax by $1.25 seems like a no-brainer! Not only would the increase raise the much needed revenue for the state, the long term savings will result in a much healthier West Virginia.
State Lead Ambassador
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)