Re: OTPC Support for Proposed Increase to Cigarette Tax

February 1, 2017

Dear Senator/Representative:

On behalf of the Oklahoma Turning Point Council and our partners across the state, we encourage you to support HB1841, the proposal to increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack.

The Oklahoma Turning Point Council (OTPC) formed in 1997 to help transform public health in Oklahoma by working directly with community partnerships on health improvement initiatives. Rather than a top down approach to public health, Turning Point seeks input from communities to help identify community priorities and implement local solutions.  For over 15 years, Turning Point has partnered with communities across Oklahoma to work on local innovations such as community health centers, extensive walking trails, community gardens, improved school health activities and advocacy for health improvement policies.  OTPC also serves as an independent statewide consortium focused on policy issues aimed at improving Oklahoma’s health, and the proposed increase to the cigarette tax falls squarely in this realm.

Smoking remains the number one preventable cause of disease and death in the United States[1], and Oklahoma is disproportionately impacted; 22.2% of Oklahoma adults currently smoke cigarettes compared with 17.5% of adults nationwide.[2]

Raising prices on tobacco products is the single most effective way to reduce tobacco consumption. A $1.50 per pack increase in the cigarette tax would make a significant impact on the lives and health of Oklahomans, preventing more than 28,200 of our young people from becoming adult smokers, motivating 30,400 adult smokers to quit, preventing 16,700 smoking caused deaths and generating long-term healthcare cost savings of $1.22 billion.[3]

Increasing the cigarette tax will be good for Oklahoma and demonstrate that we take the health of our people seriously. In addition, increasing the cigarette tax will benefit workplaces across the state, helping to combat more than $156 million in losses attributable to absenteeism related to smoking illness [4].  Further, 62% of Oklahoma registered voters surveyed in 2015 supported a $1.50 cigarette tax increase.[5]

The Oklahoma Turning Point Council along with the organizations listed, are grateful for your service and commitment to Oklahoma and look forward to working with you to raise the tax on cigarettes and better address the public health challenges facing our community.

Thank you,
Sandy Foster
Chair, Oklahoma Turning Point Council

 
[1] The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2014, available at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/consumer-guide.pdf
[2] Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2015.
[3] Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids & Cancer Action Network. (2017). New revenues, public health benefits & cost savings from a $1.50 cigarette tax increase in Oklahoma. Available at http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0386.pdf
[4] Berman M, Crane R, Seiber E, Munur M. Estimating the cost of a smoking employee. Tob Control. 2014;23(5):428-33.
[5] Cole, Hargrave & Snodgrass and Associates. September 8-14, 2015.

* 1. By submitting, I acknowledge that I have authorization to sign my organization/coalition on to this letter.

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