|As many of you know, the PEIA Task Force has been conducting public outreach meetings throughout the state.
Meetings will run from May 1 to June 11, and will give the public an opportunity to voice their thoughts on the Public Employees Insurance Agency — what’s working well and what needs improved. Members of the public outreach subcommittee will relay this feedback to the larger task force, which is working to find a long-term solution to issues facing PEIA.
We would like to ask each of you to attend a public outreach meeting near you and provide information that could be passed on to garner interest regarding in the reduction of the prevalence of smoking in the State with a possible correlation to the increase in taxes on tobacco, and the potential that a portion of the revenues generated being used to bolster and be a sustainable funding source for WV PEIA.
Hopefully the PEIA task force can strongly consider that an excellent, strategic, healthy, consistent, steady funding source to bolster PEIA would be from a tobacco tax increase. A strategic CDC Best Practices and WV DHHR/BPH overall recommendation (from the May 2016 State Tobacco Use Reduction Plan) is to raise West Virginia’s tobacco products excise taxes to at least current the national average of all state excise taxes (with an equivalent tax on all tobacco/nicotine products).
This website provides all the remaining locations that the meetings will be held: https://peiataskforce.wv.gov/News/Pages/Gov.-Justice-announces-locations,-dates-for-PEIA-Task-Force-public-outreach-meetings.aspx
Below and attached are some of the talking points you could use to speak in support of the tobacco tax serving as a funding source for PEIA.
If you could please respond to this email and let us know if you are able to attend one of the upcoming meetings. We greatly appreciate your support with these efforts!
CTFWV Raising Tobacco Tax
CTFK Fact Sheet
WV Tax Increase Benefits
West Virginia’s current state cigarette tax is $1.20 per pack. The average overall state cigarette tax (including all of the U.S.) is $1.72 per pack (as of January, 2018).
Cigarette taxes in contiguous states to WV are:
VA: $0.30 (plus local taxes are levied)
See attached fact sheet “RAISING TOBACCO TAXES IS A WIN-WIN-WIN”:
Increasing the cigarette and other tobacco products tax is a win-win-win solution for states: a public health win that reduces smoking and saves lives, a financial win that reduces smoking-caused health care costs and raises much-needed revenue, and a political win because tobacco taxes have the strong support of the public. Even the tobacco industry acknowledges that raising tobacco taxes reduce smoking, which is why they fight so hard to oppose them.
The Surgeon General has called raising prices on cigarettes “one of the most effective tobacco control interventions.” Tobacco tax increases help make cigarettes too expensive for price-sensitive kids to buy and give smokers another incentive to quit. The 2014 Surgeon General’s report stated, “The evidence is sufficient to conclude that increases in the prices of tobacco products, including those resulting from excise tax increases, prevent initiation of tobacco use, promote cessation, and reduce the prevalence and intensity of tobacco use among youth and adults.”
Tobacco use costs about $170 billion each year in health care expenses, more than 60 percent of it paid by taxpayers through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.6 Smokers’ lifetime health care costs average about $21,000, despite shorter life spans. In WV, the total for smoking-related health and occupation al costs equal nearly $2 billion annually.
Since many smoking-related diseases take years to develop, health care cost savings from a cigarette tax increase will be relatively small in the first few years after an increase; however, they grow quickly. These benefits will be even greater if a portion of the tobacco tax revenue is dedicated to support tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Because tobacco tax increases work best to reduce smoking among youth, lower-income smokers and pregnant women, those smoking declines will reduce state Medicaid program expenditures.
Tobacco taxes are a reliable source of revenue for states. In fact, every state that has increased its cigarette tax by a significant amount has enjoyed a substantial increase in revenue, despite ongoing and tax-specific smoking declines and any ongoing or increased tax evasion. Put simply, the new revenue the state receives on each pack sold in the state after a cigarette tax increase always significantly outweighs the revenue losses from the decline in total pack sales caused by the rate increase. State cigarette and overall tobacco tax revenues are also much more predictable and stable than state income tax or corporate tax revenues, which can decline sharply during recessionary periods.
See additional CTFK fact sheet on “Significant Tobacco Tax Increases Reduce Tobacco Use, Particularly among Youth, Despite Tobacco Company Price Discounts and Promotional Efforts.”
Tobacco product price increases reduce tobacco use, especially among kids. The scientific research is very clear that raising cigarette prices is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids. The 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress, stated, “Evidence shows that large tax and, hence, price increases will decrease tobacco use each time they are implemented.”
Additional agencies and organizations that have studied and support increasing tobacco product prices to reduce tobacco use include: the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine,6 the President’s Cancer Panel, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank.
However, tobacco tax increases will only reduce tobacco use if they lead to a noticeable increase in the price of tobacco products. Several factors can reduce the impact of the tobacco tax increase on public health, including the tobacco companies’ price discounting and promotional activities. If the tax increase is small, it can be easily undermined by tobacco industry discounting and promotional strategies so that it will have minimal, if any, effect on reducing tobacco use. For example, a 50-cent coupon was available as an insert on a pack of cigarettes sold in Louisiana after its 50-cent cigarette tax increase went into effect in July 2015, nullifying the increase. If the tax increase is large enough to significantly raise the price so that it cannot be offset by tobacco industry strategies, it will decrease tobacco use, particularly among kids.
Knowing that large price increases reduce tobacco use, tobacco companies tactically spend billions of dollars each year to keep the price of tobacco products low by implementing aggressive price discounting and “retail value added” offers, such as buy-downs (payments to retailers that reduce the price to consumers), coupons, and multi-pack discounts (e.g., buy two packs get one free). These strategies diminish the effect of a tax increase by minimizing the price change so consumers are not deterred from purchasing. And because research shows that that youth are much more responsive to price changes than adults, discounting strategies are particularly harmful to kids.
Chaste Barclay firstname.lastname@example.org
American Lung Association in WV
2102 Kanawha Blvd East, Charleston, WV 25311