To the editor:
Thank you for bringing attention to the issue of an increase in tobacco taxes that was recently proposed in Governor Patrick’s budget (”Tobacco tax shell game,” Jan. 29). The purpose of a tobacco tax increase is not just to raise funds for the commonwealth. Increasing tobacco taxes is an effective strategy to prevent youth from smoking.
A $1 increase in the cigarette tax with a corresponding increase in the tax on other tobacco products would reduce cigarette smoking among youth by 9 percent and significantly reduce the number of youth using other tobacco products. Tobacco tax increases are most effective when they are done in conjunction with other efforts to protect youth. Local tobacco prevention programs currently track tobacco products aimed at young people, engage youth in exposing tobacco industry tactics and ensure that tobacco is not sold to minors.
We have a responsibility to help prevent our young people from starting to smoke. An increase in the price of tobacco products would help to achieve this goal.
Director, Northeast Tobacco Free Community Partnership