Cancer is the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 85, and in Florida there will be more than 121,000 new cancer cases diagnosed this year. Florida loses 32,300 people every year to tobacco-related diseases.
These are sobering statistics that require our immediate attention if we want to successfully address our state's growing cancer burden.
It's been seven long years since Florida's Legislature has done anything to address the state's woefully low cigarette tax, which currently ranks 29th in the country. Over that period, 22 other states and the District of Columbia have raised their cigarette tax, several of them multiple times.
Experts estimate that raising the price of a pack of cigarettes by $1 would lower youth smoking by about 11.6 percent and convince 94,900 adults to quit the deadly addiction. Annual health care costs in Florida related to smoking are estimated to be nearly $9 billion.
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It costs the state approximately $16.19 for every pack of cigarettes sold. Raising the tax by $1 would generate nearly $470 million in revenue that can be used to address the many serious public health needs of this state.
The tobacco industry knows how effective cigarette taxes are in curbing smoking rates, which is why it will do everything it can to stop this. It's up to us to call on our lawmakers to pass this lifesaving measure.
Join me in calling on area Reps. Jim Boyd: 941-708-4968; Darryl Rouson: 941-708-8570; Ray Pilon: 941-955-8077; Greg Steube: 941-341-3117; and Julio Gonzalez: 941-480-3560 and ask them to co-sponsor and support HB 335. Also call Sens. Bill Galvano: 941-741-3401; Nancy Detert: 941-480-3547; and Arthenia Joyner: 813-233-4277 to co-sponsor and support SB 758 to increase in the state cigarette tax by $1 per pack.
Nancy Ambrose, Holmes Beach and Bradenton, Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)