Published On: Sat, Mar 31st, 2018

Oklahoma raises cigarette tax, Health officials applaud

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and the state legislature approved an additional $1 tax on cigarettes this week, which drew accolades from the public health community.

Image/27707 via pixabay

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) commended the move in a statement: “This is an important step in the right direction which will save thousands of lives,” said Stephanie U’ren, director of the OSDH Center for the Advancement of Wellness. “This policy change will motivate thousands of current tobacco users to quit and prevent an even larger number of our children from starting this deadly habit.”

Public health officials predict the tax increase will reduce the percentage of youth under the age of 18 who smoke and ultimately become adult smokers, and encourage as many as 18,000 current smokers to quit. Fewer smokers mean a decrease in premature smoking-related deaths and a long-term health care cost savings of more than $767 million.

The tax increase will provide a savings of $3.46 million over five years for Medicaid and $6.88 million in health care cost savings from fewer smoking-related heart attacks and strokes.

Approximately 7,500 Oklahomans die each year from tobacco-related causes. Increasing the price of tobacco products is a proven strategy approved by the Surgeon General to reduce the use of tobacco. U’ren said smoking cessation will continue to be a priority of the Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan.

Cigarette smoking down in the US: CDC

Calls about E-cigarettes up 600%: Washington Poison Center

Flavored cigarettes and little cigars a favorite of 40% of middle and high school students:CDC

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