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Press Room

Obama’s Proposed Federal Tobacco Tax Increase Would Save Lives

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(April 10, 2013, New York, USA) – World Lung Foundation (WLF) has welcomed a proposed increase in federal tobacco tax announced today in President Obama’s budget statement.  The plan, to increase the price of cigarettes by 94 cents a pack, is expected to repeat the success of similar legislation in California, which has reduced smoking prevalence and raised funds to pay for early childhood education.

According to The Tobacco Atlas, a pack of 20 cigarettes costs an average of $6.36 in the United States.  This means that the relative income price of a pack of cigarettes is just 1.32 percent, making cigarettes more affordable in the U.S. than in many other countries around the world. 

Peter Baldini, Chief Executive Officer, World Lung Foundation, commented: “The U.S. still has a long way to go in the battle against tobacco use.  Nearly 22 percent of adult males and nearly 25 percent of adult females are smokers, and smoking is related to 23 percent of all adult male and adult female deaths.  Furthermore, tobacco-related healthcare costs the country $96 billion every year – that is a burden the American economy can do without.  

“We have hard evidence that increasing taxes on tobacco products is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking and other tobacco use.  A ten percent increase in price reduces overall cigarette consumption by three to five percent.  Reducing affordability is particularly effective among youth, with every 10 percent increase in cigarette price reducing youth smoking by six or seven percent.  The Obama Administration’s proposed 94 cent rise represents an increase of more than 10 percent on the current average price, so we would expect the benefits to be even greater.  It will help encourage existing smokers to reduce their consumption of cigarettes or quit entirely and it will dissuade many youth from starting to use tobacco. We urge Congress to recognize that fact and support this budget proposal.”