1. Increase the excise tax by $1.00 per pack of cigarettes and create tax parity between the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products;
2. Fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended level; and
3. Increase the sales age for tobacco products to 21 years old.
The 2016 legislative session was the second year of the 148th General Assembly of Delaware's two year session. Bills that did not pass in both chambers require re-introduction in 2017 to be considered for action. In 2016, very few tobacco control bills were introduced although some discussions occurred behind the scenes with the goal of having bills introduced in 2017.
The Delaware Health Fund, where tobacco Master Settlement Agreement dollars received by the state are directed, received almost $27 million total in fiscal year 2017. Total tobacco prevention and cessation funding decreased slightly to $6.358 million in fiscal year 2017 from $6.398 million in fiscal year 2016. This is a decrease of close to $2 million from the funding levels allocated to the program in years prior to the last two.
At the local level, Dover's City Council initiated a smokefree policy at the Dover Public Library and its grounds - for safety, cleanliness and the health of visitors. An amendment was added and passed unanimously to have no smoking within 25 feet of doorways to all city offices and buildings and eliminating smoking at city parks.
The American Lung Association in Delaware will continue to educate lawmakers on the ongoing fight against tobacco. Our goal is to build champions within the legislature and a groundswell of advocates to advance our goals, including a long overdue increase in the cigarette tax, the equalization of taxes on other tobacco products, funding to prevent our youth from starting to smoke as well as helping individuals who want to quit to do so. We also hope to increase the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 years old, and increase the licensure fees for tobacco wholesalers, retailers and vending machine operators.