ACS CAN: Tobacco Products are Cheap, but the Health Costs are High


Nov 13

According to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke cause:

  • More than 480,000 premature deaths each year, approximately one out of every five deaths.
  • At least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of all lung cancer deaths.

The Surgeon General projects that, without further action, 5.6 million youth age 0-17 alive today will die
prematurely from tobacco use.

Despite proven health risks, current rates of cigarette smoking and tobacco use remain high.

  • 18.1 percent of U.S. adults, approximately 42.1 million people, smoke cigarettes and 21.3 percent use some form of tobacco.
  • 15.7 percent of high school students smoke cigarettes and 22.4 percent use some form of tobacco.

The low price of tobacco products makes it easy for youth to afford to start and continue smoking, and current taxes do little to defray the societal cost smoking has on the U.S. economy.

  • Smoking costs the U.S. economy at least $133 billion in direct medical costs and more than $156 billion in lost productivity.10
  • The average price of a pack of cigarettes, including excise taxes, was just $5.76 in 2013.
  • The average state cigarette tax is $1.54 per pack, but state cigarette excise taxes vary significantly, from a low of 17 cents per pack in Missouri to a high of $4.35 in New York.

Substantial increases in cigarette tax rates generate new revenue. Revenue increases from higher cigarette taxes substantially outweigh any decline in revenue due to fewer cigarettes being sold.

Significantly Increasing Taxes on Tobacco Reduces Tobacco Consumption

Regular, significant increases in the retail price of cigarettes reduce the number of people who begin smoking and increase the number of smokers who quit.

  • For every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes, there is a 4 percent reduction in overall cigarette consumption and a 6.5 percent reduction in youth consumption.
  • Low-income adults, youth, and pregnant women are especially likely to quit or reduce their smoking when the price increases.
  • Lower smoking rates translate into fewer smoking-related cancers and premature deaths, reduced spending on smoking-related health problems, and more productive workers.
  • When tax increases are small, tobacco companies can adjust prices or offer coupons or discounts to reduce the impact.
    Tobacco companies spent nearly $7 billion in 2011, 84 percent of their cigarette marketing budgets, on coupons and promotions that reduced the prices consumers paid for cigarettes.

Source: ACS CAN

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