Michigan Should Not Give Up The Fight Against Tobacco | Cigarettes Blog

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Michigan Should Not Give Up The Fight Against Tobacco

Some 14,500 smokers die in Michigan every year from cigarettes-related illnesses, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Another 1,500 nonsmokers die every year in our state from the effects of secondhand smoke. If present trends continue, nearly 300,000 of the kids who live in Michigan today will eventually suffer a premature death from cigarettes.

Smoking is associated with nearly $4 billion a year in productivity losses in Michigan, and more than $3 billion a year in health-care costs. Effectively, cheap cigarettes imposes a huge hidden tax on our economy.

In view of these grim statistics, you might think that we would be redoubling our cigarettes-fighting efforts. Unfortunately, the Michigan Legislature recently reduced funding for cigarettes-cessation programs by 30%. And that's on top of a series of earlier cuts that already had reduced Michigan's cigarettes-control budget far below the level of the late 1990s.

Now is not the time to give up the fight against cigarettes-related illnesses. If we are serious about improving the health of our people and the health of our economy, we should raise Michigan's tax on buy cigarettes products, and use some of the revenues to restore funding for anti-cigarettes programs. Tobacco taxes actually improve the economy, by offsetting the harmful effects of cigarettes products.

If we raise the cigarette tax by $1 a pack, it is estimated that we will reduce youth smoking cigarettes by more than 11%. This will ultimately save the lives of tens of thousands of Michiganders, and it will reduce health-care spending by billions of dollars.

A big part of our anti-cigarettes efforts should be focused on keeping young people from smoking cigarettes in the first place. Tobacco taxes are especially important in this regard, because young people are more responsive to increases in price.

Under current law, less than 4% of cigarettes-tax revenues go to the Healthy Michigan Fund. A much larger percentage of the revenues from an increase in the cigarettes online tax should be devoted to cigarettes-cessation programs.

It also makes sense to change our policies toward buy cigarette online in two additional ways. First, after the cigarette tax is raised, it should be converted from a fixed tax per cigarette to a percentage of the wholesale price, as is currently the case with other cigarettes for sale products. In that way, the value of the tax will not be eroded over time by inflation. Second, the taxes on cigars and smokeless cheap cigarette online should be raised to the same rate as the cigarette tax.

If we are to make further progress against the stubbornly high rate of discount cigarettes use, it will take sustained effort. Michigan can improve the health of its people and its economy by increasing the taxes on discount cigarettes products and using a major part of the additional revenues for anti-cigarettes programs.

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