Thursday, May 23, 2024

Legislators Urged to Fund Tobacco Control Programs with Existing Revenues

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According to a news update from the International Women’s Forum (IWF) on September 27, lawmakers in Massachusetts have recently heard testimony about proposed bills in both the state House and Senate that aim to address teenage nicotine addiction by increasing the state’s tobacco tax on cigars and cigarettes. The legislators are being urged to pass legislation that would allocate the existing tobacco funds towards programs targeting adolescent tobacco and e-cigarette usage, rather than imposing harsh taxes.

According to the biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of traditional tobacco products (including cigarettes and cigars) among high school students in Massachusetts is at its lowest level in history.

According to statistical data, in 2021, 3.5% of Massachusetts high school students reported using combustible cigarettes, marking the lowest rate ever recorded. In 2019, 5% of Massachusetts high school students reported current cigarette use. From 2019 to 2021, the current smoking rate has decreased by 30%. Since 1993, the smoking rate among Massachusetts high school students has declined by 88.4%.

The proposal suggests that a substantial amount of funds should be raised by utilizing the $3.51 per pack cigarette excise tax currently in place, instead of imposing additional taxes. The state should also make use of the funds received annually from the tobacco manufacturers’ Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).

According to statistics, the total revenue from cigarette consumption taxes in Massachusetts in 2021 exceeded $616.4 million. However, in the same year, only $5.1 million was allocated by Massachusetts for tobacco control programs, including preventing nicotine addiction among young people. This amounts to a mere 1.4% of the cigarette tax revenue, and only 2.1% of the funds paid by the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) were used to support programs aimed at preventing youth usage and helping adults quit smoking. In fact, for every $1 obtained by Massachusetts from the tobacco industry in 2021, only $0.01 was allocated to tobacco control efforts.

The proposal suggests that legislators should enact legislation to utilize more revenue funds coming from existing taxes and settlement payments to fund tobacco control programs, rather than placing additional burden on taxpayers.

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