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Governor’s Tobacco Tax Proposals are Good, but Kansas Deserves Better

TOPEKA, Kan. -- In response to Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposals to increase cigarette tax by $1 per pack and raise the tax on other tobacco products from 10 percent to 20 percent, a broad coalition of leading national, state and local health organizations issued the following statement:

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“The governor’s proposal to raise cigarette taxes by $1 per pack is a step in the right direction for Kansas, but our state deserves better. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association of Kansas, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and 17 other health organizations advocate for $1.50-per-pack cigarette tax increase and a parallel increase on other tobacco products.

“The tax on other tobacco products, such as cigars and smokeless tobacco, has not changed since 1972. The tax rate on other tobacco products needs to be brought in line with tax rates on cigarettes, otherwise we will continue to incentivize kids to use these products, many of them marketed with flavors that attract young users to a lifetime of tobacco addiction. The proposed small increase for other tobacco products to 20 percent of wholesale price is far below the increase needed to successfully curb the use of all dangerous tobacco products.

“Each year, Kansas spends more than $1.1 billion on tobacco-related health-care costs – $237.4 million coming directly from taxpayers through the state Medicaid program. A $1.50 tax increase on all tobacco products would generate more than $111 million in annual revenue that should be used to fund investments in health. The #DollarsAndSense4KS coalition asks the Legislature to allocate $5 million of this new revenue to tobacco prevention and cessation.

“This proposal not only brings in dollars to help address the state’s budget shortfall, but makes sense with substantial health benefits for Kansans of all ages. Significantly raising the price of tobacco decreases the number of youth who start smoking, increases the number of smokers who quit, cuts health care costs, and reduces deaths from lung and other cancers, heart attacks, strokes and other preventable diseases. A $1.50 tobacco tax increase will likely prevent 16,200 Kansas youth from ever becoming adult smokers and prompt 20,000 adults to quit.

“We urge Gov. Brownback and the Legislature to implement a $1.50 tobacco tax that will save thousands of lives and improve the health of Kansas.”

For more information and updates, follow the hashtag #DollarsAndSense4KS on Twitter.

#DollarsAndSense4KS is a coalition of:

American Academy of Pediatrics – Kansas Chapter
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American College of Surgeons Kansas Chapter
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City
Kansas Academy of Family Physicians
Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved
Kansas Hospital Association
Kansas Health Foundation
KU Cancer Center
March of Dimes
Midwest Cancer Alliance
National Alliance on Mental Illness – NAMI Kansas
National MS Society
Oral Health Kansas
United Methodist Health Ministry Fund
Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition
Tobacco Free Wichita
Via Christi

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