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.
Health Advocates Praise Increase to State's Tobacco Tax included in Governor's Budget
Delaware's current tax ranks 25th, last increased in 2009
DOVER, Del. –- Health advocates in Delaware are praising Governor John Carney’s 2017 budget for including a $1.00 per pack increase to the state’s tobacco tax. The increase would protect thousands of Delawareans from the dangers of tobacco.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Delaware, claiming 1,400 lives each year. Approximately 9.9 percent of high school students smoke in Delaware and about 400 Delaware youth become regular smokers every year. 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 is projected to lower smoking rates among youth by 10.6 percent and prevent 2,100 premature deaths caused by smoking. Additionally, the state will save $156.88 million in long-term health care costs.
The coalition supporting the Governor’s proposal for a tobacco tax increase includes the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Heart Association (AHA) and American Lung Association in Delaware (ALA).
“A $1.00 per pack increase in Delaware’s tobacco tax will generate $33.44 million in revenue, which will help Delaware address critical public health issues,” said Jonathan Kirch of the American Heart Association. “A higher tobacco tax will also save Delaware money by reducing tobacco-related health-care costs.”
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have increased their tobacco tax since Delaware’s tax was last increased. Seven of those states have done it multiple times.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17.4 percent of Delaware adults are current smokers – about 129,000 people. Annual health care costs in the state directly related to smoking are estimated to be $532 million. These tobacco-related costs increase the state and federal tax burden for every household in Delaware by an average of $878 a year.
“Increases in tobacco excise taxes have proven highly effective in reducing tobacco use, especially among our youth,” said Deborah Brown, of the American Lung Association. “Every 10 percent increase in cigarette prices reduces youth smoking by about seven percent and total cigarette consumption by about four percent.”
“A tobacco tax increase is truly a win-win solution for Delaware,” said Jeanne Chiquoine of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “This increase is a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, and a financial win that will help close Delaware’s budget gap. We look forward to working with the General Assembly to support this proposal”
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