The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report confirms that our work to increase the price of tobacco is making a difference in breaking a deadly cycle but it's too soon to call it quits. Studies have shown that one of the most effective tools to keeping cigarettes out of the hands of children and adults is boosting tobacco excise taxes. With many states facing extremely large budget deficits, increased tobacco taxes present lawmakers with an opportunity to do what is right for public health, create a stable revenue stream to help reduce deficits and to enact a tax that repeatedly proves popular with voters. Legislators can multiply the positive impact of a tax increase on both public health and their state's fiscal health by dedicating a portion of the money to implementing tobacco prevention programs that have, in some cases, reduced youth smoking by up to 40 percent. Currently, funding for comprehensive tobacco control and prevention programs in many states remains woefully inadequate to have a sustained impact.

While we urge all states to raise their tobacco taxes, we would especially encourage the 30 states and territories that currently have a cigarette tax below $1.50 per pack to consider the benefits of a cigarette tax increase of at least $1.00 per pack. And we urge states that haven't increased their cigarette taxes in years to enact legislation that will boost revenue and reduce the prevalence of disease associated with tobacco use. Cigarette smokers are two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers and tobacco use doubles a person's risk for stroke.

This report is another reminder for state and local legislators that tobacco tax increases bring long-lasting benefits with improved quality of life and a stronger fiscal environment and they should not hesitate to do what's best for their constituents.

American Heart Association

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