The Health and Economic Benefits of Making Pennsylvania Smoke-Free
In June, the American Cancer Society distributed a document called Saving Lives, Saving Money. This document provides a state-by-state report on the health and economic impact of comprehensive smoke-free laws. So, what does this mean for Pennsylvania?
It's no surprise that each year tobacco causes hundreds of thousands of premature deaths and costs billions of dollars in medical and productivity losses. In PA alone, $5.7 Billion is spent on health care to treat sick smokers. In these very difficult economic times, what would it take to reverse or eliminate this very real expense in Pennsylvania?
According to the Surgeon General, the science is clear: There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Just as tobacco smoke causes lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes and other preventable diseases in smokers, secondhand smoke causes disease and death in non-smokers, as well. Smoke-free laws not only decrease exposure to tobacco smoke, they also decrease the number of youth who start smoking, increase the number of smokers who quit, and cut health care costs for smoker and non-smokers alike.
PA has a law that prohibits smoking in workplaces, but it does not have a comprehensive law stopping smoking in all restaurants and bars. Making all PA workplaces, restaurants, and bars 100% smoke-free would prevent about 12,100 youth from becoming smokers, and within five years, save an estimated $38.5 Million in lung cancer, heart attack, and stroke costs, according to this report.
In addition, 33,800 adults would quit smoking, resulting in almost 20,000 fewer deaths from smoking and another 2,200 for those exposed to secondhand smoke. Health care costs for both smokers and non-smokers would be saved - $10.36 Million to treat lung cancer, $28.14 Million to treat heart attack and stroke, $1.86 Million for the state's Medicaid programs and $3.72 Million for pregnant women.
The Benefits of Raising Pennsylvania's Cigarette Tax
Pennsylvania's current cigarette tax is $1.60 per pack, and it has not raised the cigarette tax since 2009. Excise taxes decrease the number of youth who start smoking, increase the number of smokers who quit, cut health care costs, and reduce deaths from lung and other cancers, heart attacks, strokes and other preventable diseases. The health benefits of cigarette taxes are even greater when the revenue raised is earmarked for tobacco control or public health programs.
The addition of a $1.00 increase in the cigarette tax would prevent approximately 75,100 youth from smoking, 64,700 adults would quit smoking, and smoking-related deaths would be reduced by 59,800. This $1.00 increase would save PA $9.25 Million in the treatment of lung cancer, $19.7 Million for heart attack and stroke, $6.32 Million savings for Medicaid, and $17.48 Million for pregnancy. In addition, it would provide $379.50 Million in additional State revenue.
Saving Lives, Saving Money - Imagine what it would be like if we could change the future of more than 90,000 youth who never picked up a cigarette, never experienced secondhand smoke, saw fewer of their loved ones dying from tobacco use, and saw less of their hard earned tax dollars being used to treat diseases that were preventable. Just imagine.
Source: American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
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