On May 29, the DC Council unanimously approved its 2019 budget, including one million new dollars for tobacco cessation programs at the DC Department of Health and funding to implement Washington DC's Tobacco 21 law. This was made possible by a 10-2 Council vote on May 15, which raised the District's cigarette tax by $2, to $4.50/pack.
hero_image_alt_text===Councilmember Vincent Gray speaks at DC Calls It Quits press conference
This legislation was introduced and championed by Councilmember Vincent Gray and will make DC's state cigarette tax the highest in the nation and is projected to prevent 2,000 deaths, help over 5,000 adults quit smoking, and reduce youth smoking by 21%. The American Heart Association led the campaign in partnership with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and other health organizations. Great Washington Board member Dr. Federico Asch and You're the Cure advocate Deb Wells played critical volunteer roles to ensure success, including testifying before the DC Council, serving as media spokespeople, emailing Councilmembers, and recording videos. Deb also met with Councilmembers throughout the campaign and attended lobby day. Before becoming enacted law, the policy still must be signed by the Mayor and complete the required 30-day Congressional review period for all DC legislation. The bill should become official law in the fall.
Thank the DC Council for increasing the tax to help people quit and implement the Tobacco 21 law.