As a longtime supporter of March of Dimes and this year’s Los Angeles Area Family Ambassador, I share their goal to give all babies a healthy start in life. One way they’re currently trying to do this in California is by supporting The California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016, which would increase the cigarette tax by $2 per pack and place similar increases on e-cigarettes.
This act could have a hugely positive impact on California, including pregnant women and their babies. Studies have shown cigarette tax increases that raise prices by ten percent reduce smoking among pregnant women by seven percent. This is so important because women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have premature babies, and exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy and after birth increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In fact, a recent article in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics estimated that even a $1 increase in the cigarette tax would reduce infant mortality by 3.2 percent.
There are lots of other reasons to like this act, too. Ninety percent of smokers start as teens, and this initiative would greatly help in reducing the number of teen smokers. Perhaps most crucially when it comes to today’s teens is the increased taxes on e-cigarettes, which are so popular among teens that they tripled in use between 2013 and 2014. A big reason for this frightening spike is the way e-cigarettes are made and marketed. Check out these totally not for kids e-cigarette vape flavors:
And ones that mimic popular candies like this “gummy candy” flavor:
The act would also raise a lot of money that would be put to good use. Every year, smoking costs California taxpayers billions of dollars, including $3.5 billion Medi-Cal spends annually to treat smoking-related diseases. That is a huge cost, but the money raised by this act would fund healthcare programs (like Medi-Cal), smoking prevention programs, and medical research on tobacco-related diseases including cancer, heart, and lung diseases. In the long-term these programs will reduce smoking rates — and health care costs in California — in a big way.