Recently, I joined more than 120 other cancer patients, survivors and loved ones at our state Capitol to urge our legislators to make the fight against cancer a top priority this season.
I’m grateful my legislators, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township; Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township; and Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, were able to sit down with me and others the past couple of weeks to discuss how policies proven to reduce cancer diagnoses and deaths like the proposed tobacco tax increases would reduce the burden of cancer in Pennsylvania.
There is a bill pending in the state legislature that would increase the state cigarette tax by $1 a pack. Although I appreciate this effort, I believe we need to do more.
Raising the tax by $1.60 a pack would have a true health impact. This one, simple act can keep nearly 91,000 children in Pennsylvania from ever becoming adult smokers. And it means that an estimated 108,500 adult smokers would quit.
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For state legislators, this is a win-win idea. You can decrease long-term health care costs and protect our children. I urge support for the tobacco tax increase. It’s the right choice for our kids.
It is estimated that taxing other tobacco products (like smokeless tobacco and cigars) based on their wholesale price would bring in more than $130 million in new revenue each year.
Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that does not tax smokeless tobacco.
A poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies found that 80 percent of Pennsylvania voters favor taxing smokeless tobacco and cigars to help address the state’s deficit.
The writer is an American Cancer Society volunteer.