by William V. Corr
June 26, 2004
Alaska can expect the initial 60-cent increase to prevent some 5,300 kids alive today from becoming smokers, save 2,200 Alaskans from smoking-caused deaths, produce $88 million in long-term health care savings, and raise roughly $17 million a year in new revenue. While these numbers are impressive, an immediate $1 cigarette tax increase would have prevented some 8,900 kids alive today from becoming smokers, saved 3,900 Alaskans from smoking- caused deaths, produced $148 million in long-term health care savings, and raised roughly $26 million a year in new revenue.
Alaska becomes the 34th state, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to increase its cigarette tax since January 1, 2002. The evidence is clear that increasing the price of cigarettes is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among children and pregnant women. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by three to five percent. Preliminary evidence confirms that every state that has significantly increased its cigarette tax in recent years has enjoyed substantial increases in revenue, even while reducing cigarette sales.
Tobacco use is the leading
preventable cause of death in Alaska. 19.2 percent of high school
students currently smoke, and 2,200 more kids become regular,
daily smokers every year. Smoking-caused health care costs Alaska
and its taxpayers $132 million a year. Alaska's higher cigarette
tax will help reduce this terrible toll.
William V. Corr
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