Entries in Tax (5)


Report: Raising Cigarette Tax Could Deter Smoking

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new report by the Congressional Budget Office, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, says raising cigarette taxes by just 50 cents could save lives. The report estimates that if the tax is implemented, 200,000 cigarette-related deaths could be avoided.

Dr. John Spangler with the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Wintston-Salem, N.C. says this method has worked in the past.

"Research has consistently shown that as you raise the cigarette tax, you decrease use," he says. "Every state that has increased their cigarette taxes have noted a drop in cigarette consumption."

"In fact, for every 10-cent increase in cigarette tax, it's been shown that there's a three- to five-percent decrease in cigarette consumption or smoking by both adults and youth," Spangler adds.

But the higher cost may not be enough for some heavily addicted smokers to kick the habit, according to Spangler.  

"To really help them quit and to reduce their tobacco use, you really do need to provide them with smoking cessation devices."

Initially the tax could save about $730 million in federal health care spending dollars, cutting a significant portion of the nation's deficit, according to the CBO report. However, with more people living longer because of this tax, federal spending would eventually be higher than it would have been otherwise.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Voters in California Weigh Cigarette Tax to Fund Cancer Research

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- While you were watching the news-leading story of the recall election in Wisconsin, voters in California Tuesday were deciding whether to raise taxes on cigarettes to fund cancer research.

The tobacco fight on the West Coast has gotten the attention of a presidential primary. Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have spent almost $46 million on TV and radio ads against the proposed tax hike, which would be $1 per pack of cigarettes.

The initiative has brought about one of the most expensive election fights in recent memory, even though anti-tobacco advocates had spent just $3 million on advertising. Their effort, led by Lance Armstrong, included a parody ad that involved people saying things like: “I support big tobacco because they killed my wife. And that’s one less mouth to feed.”

The ballot question -- Proposition 29 -- was supported widely in California when it was announced, but the contest now appears to be much closer because of the influx of the ads from the tobacco industry. The industry’s campaign featured a doctor in a white smock speaking out against the proposed hike. After voters initially favored the tax by 37 points in one poll, a recent survey showed that lead had been cut down to 11 points.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Introducing Humor to an Expensive Fight Over Cigarettes

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- “I support big tobacco because they killed my wife. And that’s one less mouth to feed.”

That’s a line from a new parody commercial set to be shown during the Dancing With the Stars finale Tuesday night, put together by advocates in California who are trying to get voters to approve of a proposition that would raise a tobacco tax by a dollar to fund cancer research.

The anti-tobacco crowd says “big tobacco” will spend up to $60 million to persuade voters to oppose the tax, compared with about $3 million spent to get the proposition approved. Lance Armstrong heads the effort.

Watch the parody ad here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Can a 'Fat Tax' Help Lower Obesity?

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Adding a high tax on unhealthy food and drinks may help slow the rising rates of obesity, according to a new study published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal

Previous studies suggest that the sharp tax increase on cigarettes in 2009 has contributed to the dramatic decrease in the number of smokers in the U.S. And it's hoped a "fat" tax would work the same way.

A tax of at least 20 percent placed on sugar-sweetened drinks could drop obesity rates by 3.5 percent and prevent 2,700 heart-related deaths each year, according to the study.

Nearly 34 percent of Americans are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The growing obesity rate has led to high cholesterol, and an increase in chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer.  The goal of the tax is to curb sales of unhealthy food and decrease overconsumption, which may help to prevent disease.

The study also called for subsidizing the cost of healthy foods and vegetables to make them more affordable to greater numbers of people.

A growing number of European countries, including Denmark and France, have already imposed a tax on unhealthy food and drinks.

But not all foods that are high in fat are considered unhealthy, which may challenge the notion of imposing a blanket tax, some food policy experts said.  It's important to first distinguish what food and drink should be labeled "unhealthy" before imposing a tax, they said.

"Some high fat food like nuts are related to reduced weight gain," said Dr. Walt Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard University's School of Public Health.

Salmon and avocados, also high in unsaturated, so-called good fat, are also considered healthy foods.  Unsaturated fat eaten in moderation can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.

"A focus on sugar and refined starch is better, but as a first step I favor a focus just on sugar-sweetened beverages as the evidence is strongest for this," said Willett.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Tax on Soda Not Such a Sweet Deal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SINGAPORE) -- Imposing a new tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks might not necessarily have the desired effect of getting consumers to switch to healthier alternatives.

For years, health advocates have proposed surcharges on “junk” drinks as a way of getting people thinner.  It’s estimated that two-thirds of American adults are now either overweight or obese.  But according to a new analysis by health economist Eric Finkelstein, slapping a huge tax on cold drinks would only reduce waistlines by just about a pound annually.

Moreover, the tax on these drinks would shrink home budgets by $28 each year, mainly affecting the middle-class.

On the other hand, these surcharges on sodas, sport beverages and fruit drinks could add between $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion based on taxes of either 20 percent or 40 percent.

Finkelstein, an associate professor of health services at Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School, contends that if the government starts taxing sugar drinks, the best use for this extra revenue is putting it toward supplying schools with more nutritious foods and building parks and recreation centers so kids can work off their calories.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio