Re: OTPC Support for Proposed Increase to Cigarette Tax

February 1, 2018

Dear Senator/Representative:

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

Smoking remains the number one preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, and Oklahoma is disproportionately impacted; 19.6% of Oklahoma adults currently smoke cigarettes compared with 17% of adults nationwide.  Further, the public health burden of smoking negatively impacts our state's youth. In Oklahoma 13.1% of high school students smoke cigarettes compared with 10.8% of high school students nationwide. Nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers tried smoking by age 18. A cigarette tax increase of $1.50 per pack could keep 28,200 youth from becoming adult smokers.

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, motivating 30,400 adult smokers to quit, preventing 16,700 smoking caused deaths and generating long-term healthcare cost savings of $1.22 billion.

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.  Further, 62% of Oklahoma registered voters surveyed in 2015 supported a $1.50 cigarette tax increase.
The OTPC 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. OTPC formed in 1997 to help transform public health by working with community partnerships on health improvement initiatives.

The OTPC 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.

Doug Moore
2018 OTPC Chair

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