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State Cigarette Taxes Not Spent on Anti-Smoking Efforts
Date:4/8/2010

None of the states that boosted taxes in 2009 earmarked funds for smoking prevention, CDC finds

THURSDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Many states raised their excise taxes on cigarettes last year, but none are using that new-found money for controlling tobacco use, health officials report.

In 2009, 14 states and the District of Columbia raised their excise tax on cigarettes, increasing the national mean tax from $1.18 a pack in 2008 to $1.34 a pack in 2009, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"We know that increases in cigarette prices are one of our most effective and efficient strategies for both preventing youth initiating and helping young adults and other adults to quit smoking," said report contributor Terry Pechacek, the associate director for science of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.

But investing taxation-derived funds into tobacco prevention and control would further reduce smoking, Pechacek said.

The report is published in the April 9 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Excise taxes on cigarettes vary widely state-to-state. Rhode Island has the highest tax at $3.46 a pack, while South Carolina has the lowest at just 7 cents a pack. Connecticut's tax is also over $3.

States that have high tobacco taxes and devote funds to tobacco control programs will save on health costs in the long run, Pechacek noted. "Reducing tobacco is good for the bottom line," he said.

For example, California, which devotes its tobacco tax dollars to public health programs, estimates a $50 payback in reduced health care costs for each dollar devoted to these programs, Pechacek said. California's excise tax on cigarettes is 87 cents a pack.

"Using resources of the excise taxes, raising the price of a pack of cigarettes is a really good investment in public health," he said.

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