By increasing taxes on tobacco products, states can save lives, reduce health care costs and generate much-needed revenue. The Florida House and Senate will be considering a bill that would increase the state tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack.
Evidence clearly shows raising tobacco prices through tax increases encourages tobacco users to quit or reduce their usage and helps prevent kids from ever starting. It is estimated that this increase would convince nearly 95,000 current smokers to quit and thousands more kids from ever trying to smoke. With cancer estimated to kill 43,050 in Florida this year alone, imagine the deaths that could be prevented with an increase in our tobacco tax.
Unfortunately, Florida's current tax is falling short of what is needed to make a significant difference because it is below the national average. Currently, 28 other states have a tobacco tax that is higher than Florida's, and our Legislature hasn't raised the tax since 2009.
By increasing the tobacco tax, Florida's lawmakers could help us overcome the tobacco epidemic in this state. This is an opportunity to not only save money and generate revenue, but most importantly, save lives.
Please call area Reps. Jim Boyd at 941-708-4968, Darryl Rouson at 941-708-8570, Ray Pilon at 941-955-8077, Greg Steube at 941-341-3117 and Sens. Bill Galvano at 941-741-3401, Nancy Detert at 941-480-3547, Arthenia Joyner at 813-233-4277 and ask them to support an increase in the state tobacco tax.
Nancy Ambrose, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer Holmes Beach, Bradenton