State Cigarette Tax Increase of $1.25 Protects Public Health

Will Result in 140,000 Fewer Smokers in New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 11, 2008) - State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today applauded Governor Paterson and the state Legislature for increasing the state cigarette excise tax by $1.25 to $2.75 per pack. With this increase New York now has the highest state cigarette tax in the nation.

"This measure is a major step in improving the health of New Yorkers," said Governor Paterson. "I am delighted that we were able to include the excise tax in this year's budget."

"The cigarette excise tax increase is critical in saving lives and helping us reach our goal of 1 million fewer smokers by 2010," said Commissioner Daines. "We expect the $1.25 cigarette tax increase will prevent more than 243,000 New York kids alive today from ever starting smoking."

"The increase of $1.25 per pack of cigarettes in New York will result in 140,000 New York smokers quitting for good," said Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. "This will result in preventing more than 37,000 smoking-caused deaths in New York."

"Increasing the price of cigarettes makes it more difficult for young people to start smoking," said Senator Kemp Hannon, Chair of the Senate Health Committee. "That factor alone makes this worthwhile."

"The increased cigarette tax will have a far-reaching positive effect on the health of New Yorkers," said Assemblywoman Amy R. Paulin. "It will save thousands of lives."

"Under the leadership of Governor Paterson, Commissioner Daines and our state Legislature, New York state is now the national public health leader in tobacco taxation," said Michael Seilback, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy of the American Lung Association of New York State. "This increase is a win for public health, as youth are less likely to start smoking and adults are more likely to quit the deadly addiction."

"Big Tobacco just lost about a quarter million New York teenagers," said Donald Distasio, Chief Executive Office of the American Cancer Society's Eastern Division. "The cigarette tax is really about people. It's about saving lives and preventing cancer death. Cigarette taxes have the very real effect of getting people to quit smoking while pricing a highly addictive product out of the hands of kids. It's a buck and a quarter that will buy better health and longer lives for New York State children."

"Underlying tobacco-related complications represent one of the most serious threats to public health in our state," said Martha H. Pofit, Executive Director of the New York State Public Health Association. "This bold move at the state level, when combined with smoking reduction programs in our communities, should go a long way in improving public health and in supporting the recently announced comprehensive Prevention Agenda to make our state the healthiest state."

The increased cigarette excise tax takes effect on June 3, 2008 and is a key component of the state's comprehensive $83 million anti-smoking effort. The additional $1.25 excise tax will produce more than $5 billion in long-term health care savings and raise approximately $265 million a year in new state revenues.

Raising the price of cigarettes is the most effective way to get smokers to quit. The increased cigarette tax along with the state Clean Indoor Air Act that prohibits smoking in public places, the NY Smokers Quitline and effective statewide media campaigns make New York a national leader in tobacco control.

Currently 2.7 million adults smoke in New York, or 18% of the population. For smokers looking for help quitting, the New York State Smokers Quitline offers free coaching and quit plans; free nicotine patches, gum and lozenges; free tips and information and free online help. The toll- free Quitline number is 1-866-697-8487. More information is available on the Quitline Web site at www.nysmokefree.com.