Ohio's cigarette tax grade dropped from a “C” to a “D” as the state fell behind others that raised their cigarette taxes. In the American Lung Association's State of Tobacco Control annual report card released Tuesday, Ohio did poorly in almost all categories.
“It is important that we hold our elected officials accountable for failing to fully implement robust policies to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco use,” said Shelly Kiser, Director of Advocacy, American Lung Association in Ohio
Ohio's cigarette tax is $1.25 a pack. The average state cigarette tax is $1.34 and the average for non tobacco farming and manufacturing states is $1.47. The ALASTC report quickly points out Ohio's cigarette tax was last raised in 2005. Ohio's Other Tobacco Products (OTP) tax is 17% of wholesale price, less than half the cigarette tax if compared equally and its never been raised.
“Although the report card gives grades for the adequacy of tobacco control programs, this exercise isn't academic,” said Kiser.
Ohio received an “F” for tobacco prevention and control spending and an “F” for tobacco cessation coverage. The state did receive an “A” for smoke free air. The American Lung Association says the state has an opportunity to turn around the grades by increasing taxes and funding programs.
The Lung Association is calling on Ohio lawmakers to equalize the OTP tax with the cigarette tax and use the funds for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The organization believes by coupling this with an increase in the cigarette tax, Ohio will see a decrease in tobacco use, especially among Ohio's youth and will save money on health care expenses.
Tobacco related illness remains the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S. Figures provided by The American Lung association show it is responsible for an estimated 18,000 deaths in Ohio and 393,000 deaths nationwide each year. The nation, on the other hand, is forced to inhale $193 billion in costs annually.
“The consequences of success or failure are life or death. For Ohio, the report card sounds a wake up call. This is the year Ohio must increase tobacco taxes to keep kids from using tobacco and invest in vital tobacco prevention and cessation programs,” Kiser said.
Ohio voters approved an indoor smoking ban in November of 2006, making Ohio the first Midwestern state and first tobacco growing state to enact such a ban.
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