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Cigarette Tax Hike Proposed To Fund State Programs

Brian Hardzinski

Oklahoma’s health commissioner is proposing a $1.50 increase to the price of a pack of cigarettes.

Dr. Terry Cline says the tax increase would generate about $182 million per year. About $120 million would fund teacher compensation, and nearly $58 million would go toward Insure Oklahoma. Another $3.6 million would go to pediatric cancer treatment and research.

“Cigarette use is the number one preventable cause of death in Oklahoma and the United States,” Cline said. “From the Health Department perceptive, we are really just focused on driving down that rate of consumption.”

Cline estimates that the tax increase would reduce the smoking rate in Oklahoma by about 10 percent.

“The cigarette tax increase is the highest yield in terms of health benefit, lowest cost to implement program that you could possibly find,” Cline said. “We know that if we increase that price point, we can drive that consumption down and Oklahoma benefits significantly from that maneuver.”

State Rep. Doug Cox, who’s also a physician, is sponsoring the proposal in the House. The resolution would then require a vote of the people. Oklahoma’s smoking rate is above the national average, and the state has the 48th-highest cardiovascular disease death rate in the country.

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