Submitted by achenault on Tue, 04/07/2015 – 6:21pm
How can Ohio save money and lives? One sure way is to reduce tobacco use. Health care costs in Ohio directly caused by smoking total $5.64 billion annually. The state Medicaid program’s portion of smoking costs is $1.72 billion annually.
Tobacco use costs us a lot because so many Ohioans smoke. Ohio ranks 44th among states in adult smoking (http://bit.ly/1C8NY6K). 25% of adults smoke (mostly people with lower incomes) and 15% of Ohio high school students.
What about lives lost? 20,200 Ohioans die each year from smoking. 259,000 children alive today will die from smoking.
One of the best ways to reduce smoking – and keep kids from starting – is to raise the tobacco tax high enough to change behavior. That’s why Ohio anti-tobacco groups are supporting Governor Kasich’s proposal to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1.00, to $2.25 per pack. A recent poll finds that Ohioans overwhelmingly support increasing the state’s tobacco taxes, with 69% supporting the current proposal, in order to reduce tobacco use.
UHCAN Ohio is sensitive to arguments that the cigarette tax unfairly targets people with low incomes. But the tax hikes also saves many lives among people with low incomes. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has an excellent piece on the benefits of higher tobacco taxes. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3978
If you want to get involved, Investing in Tobacco-Free Youth is hosting a Tobacco Prevention Advocacy Day at the Ohio Statehouse, an opportunity to ask your legislators to support strong tobacco prevention and cessation policies. Click here to learn more about the coalition, endorse their campaign, or share a story about how tobacco has affected your life.