A health advocacy group on Monday called for state lawmakers to raise cigarette taxes by $1 a pack, citing a study that says such an increase would generate millions in revenue while reducing the number of smokers.
The study by Frank Chaloupka, a tobacco policy expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago, shows significant cigarette tax increases produce substantial amounts of new revenue, both immediately and over extended periods of time, despite any related decreases in taxed state pack sales.
“This report joins the mountain of evidence showing why raising the cigarette tax is exactly what North Carolina needs to help tackle our budget problems,” Pam Seamans, executive director of the North Carolina Alliance for Health, said in a statement.
“A $1 cigarette tax increase would prevent 84,000 North Carolina kids from becoming smokers and prompt 52,000 adult smokers to quit. It would also prevent more than 40,000 smoking-caused deaths," Seamans said. "At the same time, the state would generate approximately $366.2 million in new annual revenue while realizing $1.9 billion in long-term health care savings.“
She noted that several states, including South Carolina, have recently raised tobacco taxes to deal with budget shortfalls.
“As we saw last week in South Carolina, more states are increasing the cigarette tax to raise revenue and protect vital programs like education and law enforcement from deep cuts,” she said.
Chaloupka's study was done in conjunction with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the North Carolina Alliance for Health.