President's Plan to Expand Early Education with a Tobacco Tax Will Protect Kids and Save Lives



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-- WITH PHOTO -- TO NATIONAL EDITORS:

President's Plan to Expand Early Education with a Tobacco Tax Will

Protect Kids and Save Lives

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is

a Statement of Susan M. Liss, Executive Director, Campaign for

Tobacco-Free Kids:

President Obama today again called for bold action to protect our

children from tobacco addiction and save lives, urging Congress to

increase the federal cigarette tax by 94 cents per pack and similarly

increase taxes on other tobacco products. The evidence is clear that

increasing the tobacco tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce

smoking and other tobacco use, especially among kids, as this year's

Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health just reaffirmed.

This proposal, part of the President's FY 2015 budget, would do more

to reduce tobacco use among kids than any other single action the

federal government can take. The tobacco tax increase would also raise

$78 billion over 10 years to fund early childhood education

initiatives proposed by the President, according to the Office of

Management and Budget. Congress should embrace this proposal

enthusiastically - it would provide millions of kids with a strong

start in life, while helping them live longer, healthier lives free of

tobacco addiction.

The need for Congress to increase the tobacco tax is more urgent than

ever. While our nation has cut smoking rates by more than half since

the first Surgeon General's report was issued 50 years ago in 1964,

the latest Surgeon General's report found that smoking is even more

hazardous and takes an even greater toll on our nation's health than

previously thought. The report found that smoking annually kills

480,000 Americans - causing one in every five deaths - and costs the

nation more than $289 billion in health care bills and other economic

losses. Tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death

in our country.

The report also underscored that tobacco use is a pediatric epidemic -

90 percent of adult smokers began at or before age 18, and 5.6 million

kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease

unless current trends are reversed. The President's proposal

represents exactly the kind of action needed to accelerate progress

against tobacco and ultimately end the tobacco epidemic for good.

Among its key action steps, the new Surgeon General's report calls for

"raising the average excise cigarette taxes to prevent youth from

starting smoking and encouraging smokers to quit."

"Raising prices on cigarettes is one of the most effective tobacco

control interventions," the report concludes. "The evidence is

sufficient to conclude that increases in the prices of tobacco

products, including those resulting from excise tax increases, prevent

initiation of tobacco use, promote cessation, and reduce the

prevalence and intensity of tobacco use among youth and adults."

Even tobacco companies admit in their own documents that tobacco tax

increases reduce youth smoking. Economic research has found that

every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth

smoking by about seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by

three to five percent.

The health and economic benefits of a federal tobacco tax increase

were confirmed in a 2012 report by the highly respected Congressional

Budget Office. The CBO found that a 50-cent increase in the federal

tobacco tax would raise substantial new revenue while prompting nearly

1.4 million adult smokers to quit by 2021, saving tens of thousands of

lives and reducing health care costs, including for the Medicaid

program. Based on the CBO's statement that a $1 tax increase would

roughly double those benefits, we estimate that a 94-cent cigarette

tax increase would prompt 2.6 million adult smokers to quit and save

18,000 lives over 10 years.

We estimate that a 94-cent increase in the federal cigarette tax would

also:

-- Prevent 1.3 million kids from becoming addicted adult smokers;

-- Prevent 493,400 premature deaths from these reductions in youth

smoking alone, and

-- Save $55 billion in future health care costs from reductions in

youth and adult smoking.

The increased taxes on other tobacco products would have additional

health benefits, preventing kids from using harmful and addictive

products such as cheap, sweet cigars and smokeless tobacco.

Furthermore, national and state polls consistently show strong public

support for substantial increases in tobacco taxes, with most polls

showing voters favoring tobacco tax increases by more than a

two-to-one margin. Polls consistently have found that large majorities

of Democrats, Republicans and Independents and voters from a broad

range of demographic and ethnic groups all support tobacco tax

increases - as do significant numbers of smokers.

In short, a significant tobacco tax increase is a win-win-win for the

country - a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, a

financial win that will raise revenue to fund an important initiative

and reduce tobacco-related health care costs, and a political win that

is popular with voters.

Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

-0- 03/04/2014

/CONTACT: Peter Hamm, 202-296-5469

/Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO

PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com

/Web Site: http://www.tobaccofreekids.org

CO: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

ST: District of Columbia

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PRN

-- DC76883 --

0000 03/04/2014 22:18:00 EDT http://www.prnewswire.com

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The Associated Press

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