Our state’s fiscal health is in crisis, as evidenced by the cuts made to the fiscal 2013 General Fund budget. Of course, the public health situation in Alabama can always be better. A $1-per-pack increase of cigarette taxes with a tax increase on other tobacco products, as well, is a win-win on both counts.
On the public health side, a $1 increase in the cigarette tax would mean nearly 33,200 adults would quit smoking, 34,200 fewer youth would never start smoking, 20,000 people could be saved from smoking-related deaths and, over five years, Alabama would save more than $26.64 million in smoking-related health treatment costs. A tax on other tobacco products would provide additional benefits.
On the financial side, the cigarette tax would raise more than $212 million in new revenue — revenue our state appears to need desperately since the governor asked state agencies to cut their budgets by nearly 11 percent.
Lives will be saved, revenues will increase. Sounds like an offer our lawmakers shouldn’t refuse. Call Gov. Bentley and tell him to support a tobacco tax increase.