The single most effective way to reduce smoking is to increase the price of tobacco. Raising the cost of a pack of cigarettes increases the likelihood that a person will stop smoking, reduces the risk of relapse among people who have stopped, and maybe most importantly, reduces the likelihood that young people will start smoking. Many health organizations such as the American Lung Association and the World Health Organization recommend increasing cigarette taxes as a basic tenet to reduce smoking rates and to decrease the health costs associated with smoking.
On November 6 two states, Montana and South Dakota, had initiatives on the ballot to raise the cigarette tax, and to use that revenue to increase access and affordability for health insurance. Despite the proven benefit to health that passage could have had, big tobacco went all out to defeat these measures. Altria/Phillip Morris and Reynolds America spent more than $17 for every man, woman, and child in Montana, and over $24 million dollars in total, in both states with a combined population of less than 2 million.
Their big money campaign won, the initiatives were defeated, and the citizens of Montana and South Dakota lost. Big tobacco makes many claims to have ‘changed’, but they have not! They still prioritize their profits over the health of our nation.
Virginia Fitch-Braun, MS