Lower Hudson Journal News: Cigarette, Soda Taxes Make Good Sense

(February 5, 2010)

February 5, 2010

Cigarette, soda taxes make good sense

Maureen Kenney

Re "Budget plan adds tax on soda, cigarettes," Jan. 20 article:

I was glad to read the above article about the governor's proposed budget. It makes good sense.

If the cigarette tax increase is used to help smokers quit, 77 percent of New Yorkers support such a tax. If the tax money is used to help prevent obesity among children and adults, 72 percent of New Yorkers are in support.

These New Yorkers know that taxpayers are already paying plenty for the medical costs associated with treating obesity, diabetes and tobacco-caused diseases. The annual portion of our state and federal taxes that pays for treating smoking-related diseases is $822 per household, with estimates of $771 per household for treating obesity-related diseases.

The $1 increase in the cigarette tax would generate $200 million in new annual revenue for the state. If lawmakers actually added that $200 million to the state's tobacco control efforts, New York would just reach the minimum amount that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends we invest. The tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is expected to raise $450 million in new revenue in 2010-11 and $1 billion in 2011-12.

Increasing the price of unhealthy items is one of the most effective ways to reduce their purchase and use. The governor's proposal would prevent 106,500 children from becoming smokers and encourage an estimated 53,800 adult smokers to quit. Sweetened beverage consumption would decrease by a minimum of 10 percent.

To improve our physical and financial well-being, we need to do what's proven to work. 

The writer, who lives in Elmsford, is director, POW'R Against Tobacco