(FRANKFORT, KY - March 30, 2018) In order to reduce smoking among children, teens, and pregnant women, and achieve intended health outcomes, the excise tax on cigarettes must be raised by at least a $1 per pack, the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow said today. This potentially would be the most significant and proven health improvement measure the General Assembly could enact in their lifetimes.
As legislators continue to discuss the two-year budget and increased tobacco taxes are on the table, the Coalition said that an increase of less than $1 is "just a tax." A lesser amount might raise revenues, but it will not create the incentive for tens of thousands of Kentucky adults to quit smoking; nor will it prevent thousands of Kentucky youth from becoming adult smokers.
Experience in other states shows that, when cigarette taxes increase by a lesser amount, tobacco companies immediately issue coupons and other price discount mechanisms to keep prices the same. Then, to recoup lost profits, the tobacco companies gradually raise their prices. Several months down the road, smokers are still smoking; they're just paying more to feed their addiction.
By contrast, a $1 increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes will create a large enough and consistent price increase to lead 29,400 Kentucky adults to quit smoking. The price hike also will keep 23,200 youth currently younger than 18 from ever starting, the Coalition said.
Over the long-term, the reduction in smoking will reduce cancer, heart disease, COPD and other tobacco-related illness in Kentucky. And it will save $1.07 billion in tobacco-related health care costs. Moreover, Kentucky's cigarette tax will remain competitive with bordering states, and below the national average of $1.72 per pack.
The Coalition strongly urges legislators, as they finalize budget negotiations over the coming days, to take this opportunity to improve health in the Commonwealth in a measurable way, by increasing the tax by at least $1 as Oklahoma recently did.
About the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow
The Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow is committed to its mission of improving Kentucky's health by protecting Kentuckians from secondhand smoke and other tobacco emissions, and by reducing the high rate of smoking and tobacco use in the Commonwealth. For more information, please visit www.smokefreetomorrow.org.
The Coalition is led by representatives of the Baptist Health, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Humana, Kentucky Cancer Foundation, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Council of Churches, Kentucky Equal Justice Center, Kentucky Health Collaborative, Kentucky Health Departments Association, Kentucky Hospital Association, Kentucky Medical Association, Kentucky Nurses Association, Kentucky School Boards Association, and Kentucky Youth Advocates. Other partners and members of the Coalition represent a broad array of more than 145 groups, including Kentucky business leaders, health advocates, health care providers and payers, educators, and faith community leaders.
Bonnie J. Hackbarth