Oneida Daily Dispatch (Letter to the Editor): Cigarette Tax Would Aid Public Health

(March 13, 2010)

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March 13, 2010

By Scott T. Santarella, President and CEO
American Lung Association in New York
Albany

To The Editor:

The Lung Association agrees with the growing number of New Yorkers who believe the time has come for the state to collect taxes on cigarettes sold to the public at Native American reservations. That’s why we’re hopeful that Governor Paterson’s proposal to create a new mechanism to collect the tax on these cigarettes is approved and quickly implemented.

Just last week, the Lung Association joined members of the Enforce the Law, Collect the Tax Coalition at a press conference in Albany to urge swift implementation of the regulations. Each day cigarette taxes go uncollected, the state not only loses revenue but misses opportunities to positively impact public health.

As long as New York state continues to allow the sale of lower-cost untaxed cigarettes, it undermines its own efforts to reduce smoking. Studies have repeatedly shown that as the price of a pack of cigarettes increases, so too does the number of people who choose to quit. What’s more, as the price increases, the number of children smoking decreases.

For these reasons, the American Lung Association in New York wholeheartedly supports the governor’s efforts to enforce the law and collect these taxes. We also support his proposal to raise the state cigarette by $1 in this year’s budget.

Higher prices together with strict tax enforcement will lead to fewer smokers and a much healthier New York.