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William R. Barnett & Todd Ford: Governor’s cigarette tax increase right for public health

To the editor:

We are writing in support of Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposed $1 cigarette tax increase, a proposal that also includes closing the loophole in the way other tobacco products, including those aggressively marketed to youth, are taxed.

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids estimates that a $1 increase to the tobacco tax would save more than 27,000 young people from lifetime of addiction to tobacco. That’s because when the price of tobacco goes up, it becomes less appealing to young people.

Tobacco price increases, usually accomplished in the form of taxes, are a key strategy to decrease tobacco use among youth, according to the surgeon general. It’s time to use this prevention strategy again. The last increase to Massachusetts cigarette tax was $1 in 2008 and the last tax increase on other tobacco products came a decade ago, in 2002. Of all states bordering Massachusetts, only New Hampshire has a lower cigarette tax.

The Hampshire Council of Governments houses the Tobacco Free Community Partnership, funded by the Massachusetts Cessation and Prevention Program Community Partnerships. The program serves as a resource for local coalitions, health and human service agencies, municipalities and workplaces on tobacco intervention.

We have a responsibility to help prevent our young people from starting to smoke. An increase in the price of tobacco products would help to achieve this goal.

William R. Barnett

Todd Ford

Northampton

William R. Barnett and Todd Ford wrote on behalf of the Hampshire Council of Governments. Barnett is its chairman, Ford its executive director.

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