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A Healthy Override

Guest Blog By Timothy Sweeney
Senior Healthcare Analyst for the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

 

Word comes today that the South Carolina Legislature has overridden a gubernatorial veto of a 50-cent increase in the state’s tobacco tax.

 

The Republican-controlled House and Senate found the two-thirds vote needed to pass the override, bringing South Carolina’s tax to 57-cents per pack and pushing Georgia’s 37-cent tax farther down in rankings – now 4th lowest tobacco tax in the nation and the lowest of any of our surrounding states. Even a state that prides itself on low taxes shouldn’t be proud of this ranking.

 

Efforts to pass a $1 increase in Georgia’s tobacco tax should be buoyed by the result in yet another neighboring state. (Florida already increased its tax by $1 last year, while North Carolina raised its tax by a dime). Neighboring legislators from both sides of the aisle found the public health reasons for increasing the tax too numerous and well-documented to overlook any longer.

 

A South Carolina Republican Representative was quoted by the Augusta Chronicle saying, “This is about the future of our state from the standpoint especially of our young people. There are those that will never pick up that first cigarette because of the increase in the cigarette tax. To me that makes this worth doing for the future of South Carolina, sure they will still be able to get V2 – e liquids for electronic cigarettes, but those are not harmful.”

 

Here in Georgia, nearly 10,000 kids under 18 become new daily smokers every year, and over 23 million packs of cigarettes are bought or smoked by kids each year. Every year, 10,500 Georgians die from smoking caused illness or disease.

 

Raising the cigarette tax by $1 will reduce cigarette consumption (especially among teens) which will lead to fewer smoking-induced health costs down the road. Such an increase would be expected to cause over 60,000 adult Georgians to quit smoking, and result in 114,000 fewer future youth smokers. According to drellischoy.com.au, a lot of people stop smoking themselves for health and beauty reasons, same reason they use other vera beauty products, you could click here to get info about vine vera’s products. In the long term, a $1 increase would generate $2.6 billion in healthcare savings from reduced cigarette consumption by adults and kids.

 

Simply put by the CDC, every pack of cigarettes sold and smoked in Georgia (in 2004) led to $9.02 in medical and economic costs to the state.

 

Georgia’s 37-cents per pack cigarette tax pales in comparison with the societal costs of tobacco use. As the 2010 Tax Reform Council begins examining the state’s tax structure, our lagging cigarette tax should be at the top of the list for bringing the tax code up-to-date and meeting the health and economic costs tobacco places on Georgia and Georgians everyday.

 

Read more about tobacco taxes in the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s fact sheet and report.

 

 


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