A report released last week by the Congressional Budget Office suggests a 50-cent tobacco tax increase would improve the population’s health by decreasing the prevalence of smoking, particularly among teens, while lowering the deficit.
“Reducing the financial strain on our health care system, decreasing the deficit and helping people live healthier just make sense, and this study confirms what many have long believed — prevention is an important part of our nation’s economic future,’’ said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., in a news release, who requested the report.
In its analysis, “Raising the Excise Tax on Cigarettes: Effects on Health and the Federal Budget,” the CBO examined the impact of raising the federal excise tax from $1.01 per pack to $1.51 beginning in fiscal year 2013 on cigarettes and small cigars. Analysts linked data from two large national surveys — the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the National Health Interview Survey, produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — to estimate the effects of smoking on annual health care spending per capita.
The report found that such a tax increase would lead to fewer smokers and initially to lower health care spending. Over the long term, however, federal spending for retirement and health care would be higher due to longer lifespans, but the increase in federal tax receipts would outweigh costs resulting in a net decline in the deficit.