By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Mayor Michael Nutter is in Harrisburg pushing the legislature to pass a cigarette tax increase in Philadelphia.
Smoking is a big killer in Philadelphia. Thousands die from tobacco related illnesses every year. The health department says smoking kills more people than murders, aids, car accidents, diabetes and illegal drugs combined. The proposed tax would be a significant life saver.
Kevin Hollis is like many Philadelphia smokers. He wants to quit, but can’t. The proposed new cigarette tax might be a good incentive.
“I don’t like it at all, but I guess it’s time to stop smoking, that’s all,” said Kevin.
The proposed two dollar a pack tax increase would raise $89 million in its first year for Philadelphia schools, and it would also save lives.
“When you increase the price of tobacco products by about 10 percent you can see about a four percent decrease in how much people smoke,” said Dr. Giridhar Mallya, Director of Policy and Planning for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. He says the tax is estimated to prompt about 42,000 Philadelphians to kick the habit, with the average price going from about six dollars a pack to almost eight.
“Price is particularly important for kids young adults and also low income smokers,” said Dr. Mallya.
People stop smoking when they can’t afford to buy cigarettes.
The life saving benefits include reduced rates of cancer, heart disease and much more.
“We know that about half of smokers will eventually die from tobacco related illness, so this has huge effects not just on peoples personal health, but the health of the community,” said Dr. Mallya.
The tax faces an uphill battle in Harrisburg.
Eric Walters says he’s already trying to quit.
“I think everybody should stop because it’s too expensive, and it can kill you,” said Eric.
The price of cigarettes and taxes are much higher in other places. They cost approximately in New York City is $11 a pack.
For resources to help you quit smoking visit: smokefreephilly.org.