Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - March 22, 2019 


President Trump rattles the Middle East, saying the U.S. will recognize Israel’s authority over the Golan Heights. Also on our Friday rundown: A judge blocks laws limiting the power of the new Wisconsin governor. Plus, momentum builds across party lines to abolish the death penalty.

Daily Newscasts

Coalition Calls for Raising PA Tobacco Tax

Raising the cigarette tax $1 would prevent 48,100 kids from starting to smoke, according to advocates of the increase. (Valentin Ottone/Flickr)
Raising the cigarette tax $1 would prevent 48,100 kids from starting to smoke, according to advocates of the increase. (Valentin Ottone/Flickr)
July 11, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A dollar a pack: that's the call from a coalition of health groups who want Pennsylvania to raise the tax on cigarettes. The American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and the American Heart Association have issued the call to state legislators. The groups say tobacco causes 22,000 preventable deaths in the Commonwealth every year.

Diane Phillips, government relations director with the Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, said the biggest impact of a tax increase would be on those who haven't started smoking yet.

"As the price of tobacco increases, use goes down, especially among kids because they're price-sensitive," she said. "So, we essentially see it as a deterrent to kids to begin using tobacco products."

The coalition estimates that a one-dollar tax increase on cigarettes would save more than 32,000 lives and save more than $2 billion in long-term health-care costs.

With the state budget in place, legislators still have to decide whether, and how, to raise new state revenue. According to Phillips, a poll of registered voters found that a bipartisan majority of 72 percent favors raising the tax on tobacco.

"Even a third of smokers supported that," she added. "So, this is actually a popular way to be able to address the budget, and also to address an important health issue."

The cigarette tax would generate more than $273 million in new revenue for the state.

Phillips said some state lawmakers have proposed both a dollar-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes, and taxing other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, at 40 percent of their wholesale price.

"The governor has also laid out a similar proposal, and we're hoping that everything lines up for that proposal to pass," she said.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA