CHICAGO — The 10th iteration of the American Lung Association’s (ALA) State of Tobacco Control 2012 report gives Illinois a “D” for their 98-cent-per-pack cigarette tax. Ranking 32nd in the nation, Illinois’ tax is one of the lowest and least effective in the country.
“Illinois is missing out on a valuable opportunity to help smokers quit, discourage kids from ever starting, and raise millions of dollars in new state funds,” said Harold Wimmer, president & CEO of the ALA in Illinois. “Cigarette taxes have overwhelming public support and I have no doubt that we could pass a stronger law in Illinois.”
It is estimated that raising Illinois’ cigarette tax by $1 would encourage nearly 60,000 adult smokers to quit and prevent an additional 75,000 kids from ever starting. The new tax could bring in more than $375 million to help chip away at the $8 billion smoking causes the state in health care expenditures and lost productivity every year.
“For every dollar we spend on helping smokers quit, we see a $1.29 return,” Wimmer said. “The American Lung Association in Illinois would like to see a strong cigarette tax pass in the next legislative session to save lives and protect our children from the devastating effects of tobacco use.”
Smoking rates in Illinois have fluctuated over the years with a noticeable decline after the implementation of the statewide smoking ban. The report estimates that smoking rates in Illinois are at 16.9 percent for adults with an alarming 18.4 percent rate for high school students. Each year, tobacco causes an estimated 16,600 deaths in Illinois alone.
Illinois’ remaining grades were an “A” for smoke-free air, “F” for tobacco control and prevention funding, and an “F” for cessation coverage.
To learn more about the State of Tobacco Control Report, visit www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org.
For more about the American Lung Association in Illinois, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.LungIL.org.
From the Jan. 25-31, 2012, issue