Lung Association Urges Schumer and Gillibrand to Support Federal Cigarette Tax Increase

Tobacco Tax Increase Will Help Fund SCHIP and Curb Youth Smoking

Albany, New York (January 27, 2009)

This week, the United States Senate will have its first opportunity in 2009 to move our nation towards a healthier future by voting to increase the federal cigarette tax as a means to fund the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This vote presents an enormous opportunity for Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to once again showcase their strong support for tobacco control issues.

"This week's vote on the SCHIP legislation provides a great opportunity to help loosen the grip Big Tobacco continues to have on our nation's youth," said Michael Seilback, Vice President, Public Policy & Communications. "This important public health measure, which Senator Schumer supported last year and which Senator Gillibrand voted for on January 14 while a member of Congress, will help reduce the burden of lung disease, save lives and money."

In a strong bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly supported the proposed 61-cent federal cigarette tax increase, which will be used to provide much-needed medical care for our nation's low-income, uninsured children. It's now up to the Senate to pass this important legislation that will safeguard some of our nation's most vulnerable children.

This substantial increase on the federal cigarette tax will also go a long way in reducing youth smoking rates. Research indicates that a ten percent increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by seven percent.

The American Lung Association in New York recently highlighted findings of the State of Tobacco Control 2008 report, which estimates the economic costs in New York State due to smoking are a staggering $14.1 billion dollars. The report found that New York's grades for tobacco prevention funding and coverage were among the worst in Nation, while New York's smokefree laws and tobacco taxation were among the best.

In June 2008, New York State became the national public health leader in tobacco taxation when it raised the tobacco excise tax to $2.75 - the highest in the nation. It is estimated that in New York, the additional federal increase of 61 cents will prevent 76,000 youth from starting smoking and will prevent over 35,000 smoking-related deaths.

For more information, or to view the complete New York State report card, visit us online at www.alany.org/SOTC.

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