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Florida's $1 Cigarette Tax Increase a Big Win for Public Health
Date:5/28/2009

WASHINGTON, May 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The State of Florida took a major step forward to save lives and protect children yesterday when Governor Charlie Crist signed a $1 per pack surcharge into law. Additionally, the governor and legislature through the budget dramatically increased funding for smoking cessation services for Floridians, including monies for the state's toll-free QuitLine (877-U-CAN-NOW).

Florida's cigarette tax had been the fourth lowest in the nation. When the surcharge goes into effect July 1, Florida's taxes will rank 22nd.

"You cannot be serious about cancer control if you are not serious about tobacco control, and today the governor and the Florida Legislature proved their mettle in that regard," said Marty Larsen, chairman of the Board and president of the American Cancer Society's Florida Division. "This will reduce smoking and save lives."

The American Cancer Society, along with its advocacy affiliate the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and other coalition partners, advocated for this increase as a way to improve the public's health. The statistics dramatically illustrate the significance of today's action: A $1 per pack surcharge right on the heels of, and in combination with, the recent federal cigarette tax increase will prompt 175,900 Floridians to quit smoking, and it will prevent 303,300 children from taking up the deadly habit. A total of 143,500 tobacco-related deaths will be avoided.

The increased tax will generate approximately $945 million in revenue for the state in the first year. The long-term health impact savings for the state from adult and youth smoking decline is estimated to be $6.9 billion.

Florida is the sixth state to increase its cigarette tax this year. In February, Arkansas increased its tax by 56 cents and Kentucky increased its tobacco tax by 30 cents, doubling the state tax to 60 cents per pack. In April Rhode Island added $1.00 to its tobacco tax, making their $3.46 tax the highest in the nation. On May 15, Mississippi increased their tobacco tax by 50 cents, more than tripling their tax to 68 cents. Hawaii's tax increase is set to become effective July 1, and will be $2.60, an increase of 60 cents. South Carolina has the lowest tax at seven cents. The current average tax is $1.25 per pack. Once Florida's increase goes into effect, the new average tax will increase to $1.27.

"We applaud Florida for this important public health victory," said Daniel E. Smith, president of ACS CAN. "Raising the cigarette tax is good health policy and a proven way to reduce smoking rates among adults and especially youth. Research has consistently shown that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by 7 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. We encourage other states to continue this life-saving trend."

Society and ACS CAN leaders also applauded the broad bipartisan support engendered by this critical public health issue. While the leadership in both chambers is to be commended in taking up these measures, the surcharge would not have passed were it not for the tireless advocacy of Senator Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) and Representatives Jim Waldman (D-Coconut Creek) and Juan Zapata (R-Miami), each of whom filed specific legislation to advance this life or death cause.

The American Cancer Society's Florida Division is comprised of staff and nearly 200,000 volunteers throughout the state who are dedicated to saving lives and creating more birthdays by helping people stay well and get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back against cancer. For more information, visit www.cancer.org.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.


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SOURCE American Cancer Society
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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