Increasing Oregon's Cigarette Tax Will Reduce Smoking
As Oregon residents prepare to vote on a November ballot initiative that would increase the state cigarette tax to fund children's health care, a report released today finds that the 84.5-cent increase would not only fund health care for more than 100,000 Oregon kids, but also dramatically reduce youth smoking and tobacco-related health care costs and save thousands of lives.
The 22-page report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids -- titled "Tobacco Tax Benefits For Oregon: Reducing Smoking, Saving Lives and Saving Money" -- finds that the 84.5-cent cigarette tax increase in Ballot Measure 50 would:
* Prevent more than 29,000 Oregon kids from becoming smokers
* Spur more than 15,000 current adult smokers to quit for good
* Save more than 13,000 Oregonians from premature, smoking-caused deaths
* Produce more than $662 million in long-term health care savings
* Raise more than $94 million a year to expand health care coverage to more than 100,000 Oregon kids.
"This report provides powerful evidence that increasing the cigarette tax by 84.5 cents will improve both the physical and financial health of Oregon for generations to come," said William V. Corr, Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
"In addition to funding children's health care, a higher cigarette tax will significantly reduce smoking, lower smoking-caused health care costs and save lives. A higher cigarette tax to fund health care coverage is a win-win for Oregon's kids," Corr said.
If approved, the 84.5-cent increase would raise Oregon's total state cigarette tax to $2.02 per pack, about the same as neighboring Washington. A total of 44 states have increased their cigarette taxes in recent years, and eight states currently have cigarette taxes of $2 or more.
The evidence is clear that increasing the price of cigarettes is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among children and pregnant women. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by about 6.5 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. In recent years, every state that has significantly increased its cigarette tax has enjoyed significant increases in revenue even while reducing smoking.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In Oregon, tobacco use claims 5,000 lives each year and costs the state more than 1.1 billion annually in health care bills, including $287 million in Medicaid payments alone. Government expenditures related to tobacco amount to a hidden tax of $587 every year on every Oregon household. While Oregon has made progress in reducing youth smoking, 17 percent of Oregon high school students are still current smokers, and 5,300 more kids become smokers every year.