In its final meeting of the year today, the Joint Revenue Committee voted 8-7 to introduce a bill in the 2018 legislative session that will increase the state's tobacco tax by $1 per pack of cigarettes with an equal tax on all other tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco.
Compromising on Cigarette Tax Means Surrendering on Public Health
Pennies Won't Save Lives
DOVER, Del. – June 20, 2017 – The decision of Delaware's elected officials to move forward a 50-cent increase to the state's tobacco tax is a victory for the tobacco industry and ignores proven public health facts. Following are statements from members of the Delaware Impact Coalition, which includes the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Heart Association (AHA), American Lung Association (ALA):
“Tobacco tax increases must be high enough to impact consumption and save lives,” said Jeanne Chiquoine, government relations director for ACS CAN in Delaware. “Research has proven that when cigarette tax increases are significant – a dollar or more – that’s when large numbers of people stop smoking and many youngsters never start. When tax increases are small, tobacco companies can absorb the price difference and offer discounts and coupons that they know will incentivize continued tobacco addiction. Pennies on the dollar simply won’t save lives.”
“The proposed House Bill (HB) 242 falls short on maximizing the value of tax as a tool to discourage smoking by youth and adults,” said Deborah P. Brown, President and CEO, American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “The American Lung Association in Delaware supports legislation that will significantly increase the tax on cigarettes by at least $1.00 per pack and establish a tax on all other tobacco products (OTP), including e-cigarettes. We strongly encourage legislators to take the action necessary to save more lives; increase the cigarette tax to $1.00 per pack.”
“With a one dollar per pack increase, Delaware had the opportunity to make a bold statement about our desire to address the leading preventable cause of death and disease in our state,” said Jonathan Kirch, government relations director for the American Heart Association in Delaware. “It is outrageous that some of our elected officials seem more concerned about keeping tobacco prices low than they are about keeping our youth from getting addicted to this deadly product. Compromising on public health is never the right answer.”
Tobacco use claims 1,400 lives in Delaware annually. Because nearly 10 percent of high school students smoke in Delaware, about 400 Delaware youth become regular smokers every year and there are 17,000 Delawareans under 18 today who will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.
A $1 per pack tax increase to the Delaware tax would have lowered smoking rates among youth by 10.6 percent and prevented 2,100 premature deaths caused by smoking. Additionally, the state could have saved $156.88 million in long-term health care costs.
About ACS CAN
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.
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
The American Lung Association in Delaware is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association in Delaware is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association in Delaware, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.