Tobacco Tax A Win For All New Yorkers

Lung Association Commends Governor Paterson and Legislature

ALBANY, NY (04/09/2008)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Associations of New York State and the City of New York today applauded Governor Paterson and the New York State Legislature for raising the excise tax on cigarettes by $1.25. The Associations have been advocating for this crucial public health measure, and its inclusion in the final budget is a win for all New Yorkers.

“New York State is now the national public health leader in tobacco taxation,” said Michael Seilback, Senior Director of Public Policy & Advocacy. “The increase will eventually save the lives of over 77,000 youth who will be prevented from becoming smokers, and save more then 37,000 adult New Yorkers from a tobacco-caused death by helping them quit.”

Increasing cigarette taxes is a win, win, win:

-- A win for youth, as for every three children prevented from becoming smokers, one smoking caused death is averted.

-- A win for the loved ones of current smokers, as smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths across the country and the increase will reduce the numbers of loved ones lost.

-- A win for state revenues, as every state that has significantly increased its cigarette tax has enjoyed substantial increases in revenue, while also reducing smoking. New York State will realize an estimated $436 million in revenue each year from this increase.

Quick facts --

The American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control Report Card gave New York State only a “C” for the tax on cigarettes in January, when the excise tax on cigarettes in New York State was $1.50. Before this raise, 15 states placed ahead of New York. Now, the current tax of $2.75 is the highest of any state in the nation and would give New York an “A” for tobacco tax on the State of Tobacco Control Report Card.

New York State last raised the excise tax in 2002 – since then, 43 states, DC and Puerto Rico have increased their cigarette tax rates more than 75 times. Across the nation, 9 other states have a cigarette tax rate of $2.00 per pack or more.

New York City’s additional $1.50 cigarette tax throughout the five boroughs has contributed to a significant reduction in the number of smokers. Since the increase, the city’s adult smoking rate declined from 21.6 in 2002 to 17.5 in 2006, substantially below the national adult smoking rate of 20.9 percent. Cigarette smoking among New York City teens dropped by more than half over the past six years, from 17.6 percent in 2001 to 8.5 percent in 2007. With this increase of $1.25, the city and state will continue to see a decrease in smoking, especially among youth, and more lives saved.

New Yorkers are paying dearly for the medical costs associated with treating tobacco caused disease. The portion of our state and federal taxes that goes to pay for treatment for smoking caused diseases amounts to a tax of $904 on each New York household.

The tax on a pack of cigarettes would have to be nearly $10 per pack just to cover the medical expenses caused by smoking and nearly $22 to cover the morbidity, mortality, and costs associated with lost productivity.

Over 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 18, and this increase will discourage youth from beginning the deadly habit by making smoking expensive and inconvenient.