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Coalition supports Tobacco Tax Equity Act

Bill calls for increasing federal excise tax on cigarettes, sets federal tax rates for other tobacco products

July 23, 2021

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA and more than 50 stakeholders are supporting S 1314, the Tobacco Tax Equity Act of 2021, which would increase the federal excise tax on cigarettes and set federal tax rates for other tobacco products at an equivalent level.

In a July 16 letter to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the coalition thanked the lawmakers for the bill and their efforts to reduce tobacco use and save lives.

“This legislation would generate substantial benefits to public health by helping prevent young people from starting to use tobacco products and helping current users to quit,” wrote the groups, led by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “At the same time, it would increase federal revenues, including by closing existing tax loopholes that have created incentives for tax avoidance.”

The coalition added that raising tobacco prices is “one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, especially among youth, who are more sensitive to changes in price than adults.”

They estimated that the bill’s doubling of the federal cigarette tax would “reduce the number of adult smokers by 1.1 million in the first year and would, over time, avoid 250,000 smoking-related premature deaths.”

There is currently no federal tax on vaping products. The coalition also noted that increasing tobacco taxes could also help reduce health disparities.

“Americans with lower levels of education and income disproportionately experience the substantial health and financial burdens of smoking,” the groups wrote. “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, the World Health Organization, and other health experts recognize that these individuals will be more likely to quit due to a tobacco tax increase. Nearly half of the lives saved due to smoking reductions from the most recent federal tobacco tax increase in 2009 will be among those below the poverty line.”

“Federal tobacco tax rates have not increased in more than a decade, and the tobacco product landscape has changed significantly during this time,” the letter concluded. “It is long past time that we implement this evidence-based policy again to reduce tobacco use and save lives. We applaud the introduction of this bill and appreciate your support.”

For more information on the ADA’s advocacy efforts, visit ADA.org/Advocacy.