Tobacco Modernization Act of 2011 Provides Solution to Ohio’s Tobacco Problems

(January 20, 2011)

Ohio faired poorly in the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2010 report released today. The state received two “F” grades in tobacco-prevention and control spending, as well as tobacco-cessation coverage and a “D” in the cigarette tax category. Ohio received one good score – an “A” for smoke-free air.

 

“For the second year in a row, Ohio received failing grades in the State of Tobacco’s yearly report,” said Shelly Kiser, director of advocacy, American Lung Association in Ohio. “It is unfortunate that Ohio has failed to enact or put into place proven policies for preventing death and disease caused by tobacco use despite repeated attempts by tobacco prevention organizations.”

 

Ohio’s laws governing tobacco have not reflected the rapidly changing tobacco products market. As a result, many tobacco products are either skirting existing laws or are not covered at all. Likewise, Ohio’s tobacco taxes have not kept pace with national trends and the state’s un-checked smoking rate among Medicaid recipients begs for reform.

 

“Today’s evolving tobacco industry and Ohio’s poor report card demonstrate the need for strong action among lawmakers,” said Kiser. “That’s why the ALA and Investing in Tobacco-Free Youth Coalition are unveiling the proposed Tobacco Modernization Act of 2011 to offer a solution that will modernize tobacco laws, reduce tobacco tax evasion and reduce youth access to tobacco products, while providing additional funds to reduce the state’ budget deficit.”

 

Ohio Tobacco Modernization Act of 2011

 

21st Century Reform

  • Fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs using funds generated from the equalization of tobacco taxes
  • Re-classify filtered “little cigars” as cigarettes
  • Change existing smokeless-tobacco language to cover new tobacco products 

Tax Reform

  • Increase the cigarette tax
  • Equalize the tax on “other tobacco products” (OTP) with the cigarette tax
  • Eliminate the tobacco tax credits
  • Institute high-tech tax stamps

Medicaid Reform

  • Provide cessation counseling to Medicaid recipients for Medicaid cost containment 

“With a looming budget deficit, the need to eliminate tax credits that no longer make sense and prevent tax evasion to maximize revenue is great,” said Kiser. “The proposed Tobacco Modernization Act offers a solution that will reduce the smoking rate and reduce the tax burden to all Ohioans.”

 

Every pack of cigarettes sold in Ohio costs $9.19 in related health-care costs to businesses and the state. Equalizing the tobacco taxes will decrease consumption by 13 percent, reduce youth users by 25 percent and prevent users from simply switching to lower-taxed tobacco products. Additionally, with sustained state investments in tobacco prevention, Ohio can potentially save more than $43 million annually in Medicaid.

 

Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. In Ohio, tobacco use claims 18,500 lives and costs the state $4.37 billion in health-care costs each year. Currently, 19.4 percent of the state’s high-school students smoke. Each year, 18,100 kids try cigarettes for the first time. The estimated prevalence of current smokers in Ohio is 20.3 percent in comparison to 20.6 percent for the United States.

 

The American Lung Association in Ohio continues to advocate for tobacco pricing strategies, tobacco-cessation treatment coverage, full funding of scientifically-based tobacco prevention and cessation programming and a smoke-free public places law to protect our children, save lives and decrease health-care costs.