WISCONSINREPORT.COM (09/01/2009) - Wisconsin starts collecting a new 75 cents per-pack cigarette tax today. The tax, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, is estimated to prompt 17,000 Wisconsin smokers to quit while preventing 33,000 Wisconsin kids from ever starting. WisconsinReport.com has more on this story.
It is also expected to save the state $740 million in long-term health care costs due to decreased rates of adult and youth smokers. The 75 cent tax increase follows a $1.00 increase implemented in January 2008 and brings the total Wisconsin cigarette tax to $2.52 per pack. The American Cancer Society offers smokers help to quit.
"Increasing tobacco taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use," said Cathy Peters, Wisconsin Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society.
"Making cigarettes more expensive makes it harder for kids to afford to start smoking and motivates adults to stop,” Peters said.
Many people who have tried in the past know that quitting smoking isn’t easy, so the American Cancer Society offers smokers help through their quit line.
By calling the American Cancer Society Quitline® at 1-800-227-2345 people who plan to quit will be able to speak with a trained counselor and receive free, confidential counseling.
Studies have found that Quitline can more than double a person’s chances of successfully quitting tobacco. Callers to Quitline can be connected with smoking cessation resources in their communities, social support groups, Internet resources, and medication assistance referrals. Since its inception in 2000, Quitline has provided counseling support to more than 380,000 smokers.
“The better prepared smokers are and the more resources they have to quit the more likely they are to be successful. Most smokers want to quit, they just need help actually doing it,” said Peters.
A little less than 20 percent of people in Wisconsin smoke, just below the national average, yet Wisconsin spends an estimated $2 billion annually on tobacco-related health care costs, $500 million of which comes direct from taxpayers’ pockets in the form of Medicaid.
“Whatever we can do to help smokers quit is worth it both in terms of dollars and lives saved,” said Peters.
Quitting smoking is beneficial at all ages, and the earlier in life one quits, the greater the benefits. People who quit smoking cut their risk of lung cancer by 30% to 50% after 10 years compared to continuing smokers, and cut their risk of oral and esophageal cancer in half within 5 years after quitting.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Wisconsin, claiming more than 7,300 lives each year and costing the state $2 billion annually in health care bills, including $480 million in Medicaid payments alone. Government expenditures related to tobacco amount to a hidden tax of $594 each year on every Wisconsin household.
Smoking – whether from cigarettes, cigars or a pipe – is directly responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80 to 90 percent of emphysema and chronic bronchitis deaths. Lung cancer is also the most preventable cancer.
Smoking by parents is associated with a wide range of adverse effects in their children, including exacerbation of asthma, increased frequency of colds and ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. An estimated 150,000 to 300,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infections in children less than 18 months of age, resulting in 7,500 to 15,000 annual hospitalizations, are caused by secondhand smoke.
People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked. The good news is that quitting smoking can immediately reduce your risk of heart disease and other serious disorders, with the benefit increasing over time.
Just 1 year after you stop smoking, your heart disease risk may drop by more than half. Within several years, it will approach the heart disease risk of someone who has never smoked. No matter how long you’ve been smoking, or how much, quitting will lessen your chances of developing heart disease.
Smoking is the single most preventable cause of illness and death among mothers and infants. Historically, Wisconsin has had one of the highest rates of smoking among pregnant women in the nation (16.5 percent Wisconsin pregnant smokers compared to 12 percent nationally.) Pregnant mothers who use tobacco are putting their unborn child at risk for lower birth weight, preterm birth, slowed or reduced physical growth and a higher risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Smoking of cigarettes and other tobacco-containing substances can greatly increase infertility. Men who smoke have been shown to have abnormalities in sperm production, translating into higher rates of infertility. Smoking can also lead to impotence by causing damage to blood vessels.
For women, tobacco’s toxic substances may harm the ovaries and cause hormonal changes that can lead to menstrual irregularities or even menstrual cycles where ovulation fails to occur. Women are also at greater risk for cervical cancer, which could involve the removal of the uterus and ovaries, leaving women permanently infertile.
The list of diseases caused by smoking includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema), coronary heart disease, stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm, acute myeloid leukemia, cataract, pneumonia, periodontitis, and bladder, esophageal, laryngeal, lung, oral, throat, cervical, kidney, stomach, and pancreatic cancers. Smoking is also a major factor in a variety of other conditions and disorders, including slowed healing of wounds, infertility, and peptic ulcer disease.
Smoking shaves years off a person’s life. Men who have never smoked live on average 10 years longer than their peers who smoke heavily, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Not only do nonsmokers enjoy a longer life, they enjoy a better quality of life too.