The Best Tobacco Tax Yet
The Oregon Legislature is now considering a 60-cent tobacco tax on cigarettes to raise money for tobacco prevention and other public health programs.
According to the Oregonian, state representative Mitch Greenlick believes lawmakers will overcome the industry’s opposition this time around and enact a tax hike outright without having to send it to the ballot.
“I am absolutely ready to take on the tobacco industry,” he said. “Their product kills people.”
One of the reasons this tax may pass is that it more closely connects to recovering smoking-related health costs, whereas the previous tobacco tax ballot measure was intended to fund a health insurance program for children. Despite those well-intentioned goals, the public is generally less supportive of excise taxes that are not used to support programs related to the tax itself.
In this instance, the public is largely supportive. A recent survey of Oregonians conducted by Davis, Hibbitts and Midghall, found that 67% of the public supports such a tax.
While the up-front costs of the tax may be 60 cents per pack, the long-term benefits are dramatic, starting a chain of events that goes far beyond the price hike. Increasing the price of cigarettes is proven to decrease cigarette consumption, especially by kids, who can take decades to quit once they become addicted. Fewer smokers produce less tobacco-related costs to the public, which has been estimated to be as much as $2 billion every year.
All this results in a healthier state budget long-term.