In response to the state’s Economic Forecasting Advisory Board’s report Wednesday, a coalition of health-minded partners released the following statement:
“Today’s announcement that the Legislature expects lower revenues for the next fiscal year paints a bleak picture for Nebraska’s already thin budget. But our lawmakers already know of a possible solution to brighten that outlook and save lives.
“LB 438 would raise Nebraska’s cigarette tax $1.50 per pack and increase the tax for tobacco products other than snuff from 20 percent to 65 percent of the purchase price – increases that already have the support of 71 percent of voters. Beyond generating $120 million in new annual revenue, raising cigarette taxes $1.50 per pack would prevent 11,300 children in Nebraska from ever starting to smoke and cause 12,400 adults to quit smoking.
“Nebraska’s current cigarette tax of 64 cents per pack ranks 41st in the nation. We can, and we must, do better. The tobacco industry spends more than $60 million a year marketing their deadly products here, so the Legislature and Gov. Pete Ricketts need to do all they can to help stop the spread of tobacco use. There are 33,000 Nebraskan kids alive today who will ultimately die prematurely from smoking if they do not take action.
“Nebraskans want change. We implore the Legislature and Gov. Ricketts raise the tobacco tax and in turn, generate revenue our state desperately needs and keep cigarettes out of the hands of children.”
The health coalition is comprised of: the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Friends of Public Health, the Health Center Association of Nebraska, The Holland Children’s Movement, the Nebraska Dental Association, the Nebraska Hospital Association, and the Nebraska Medical Association.