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News » Filed under: Advocacy, Smoking/Tobacco

Report: Stronger Anti-Smoking Laws Could Save Millions of Lives and Billions of Dollars

Article date: June 15, 2011

By Stacy Simon

Two new reports from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) quantify the millions of lives and billions of dollars that could be saved if every state in the union adopted comprehensive smoke-free laws and cigarette tax increases. The reports, both under the heading, “Saving Lives, Saving Money,” measure what would happen if the 27 states with weak or no smoke-free laws were to enact them. They also measure the effect of a $1.00 cigarette tax increase by all states.

Anti-Smoking Laws


Comprehensive smoke-free laws ban smoking in all restaurants, bars, and workplaces with no exceptions or loopholes. Many states have laws that aren’t considered comprehensive because they make exceptions for casinos, bars, tobacco stores, and other workplaces, which exposes those workers to dangerous levels of second-hand smoke.

According to the reports, if the additional 27 states enacted comprehensive laws, more than 1 million adults would quit smoking and more than 400,000 youth would never start smoking. More than 690,000 lives would be saved and states would save nearly $1.2 billion over 5 years in costs to treat lung cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

"We have long known that tobacco is the only legal product that kills when it’s used as directed. It costs billions of dollars in health care and causes too much needless human suffering," said John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer of ACS CAN and the American Cancer Society. “Yet we now have concrete evidence that enacting comprehensive smoke-free laws and increasing state tobacco taxes can save millions of lives, prevent smokers from picking up the habit and save states significant dollars in health spending. Strong state tobacco control policies aren’t just a good idea in stemming the tide of the tobacco pandemic – they’re a necessity.”

ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society.

Tobacco Taxes

The state average for cigarette taxes is $1.45 per pack, but the health and economic costs attributed to smoking are estimated at $10.28 per pack. According to “Saving Lives, Saving Money,” if every state raised its per-pack tax by $1.00, nearly 1.4 million adults would quit smoking and 1.7 million youth would never start smoking. More than 1.3 million lives would be saved, and states would raise $25.7 billion in tax revenue and save more than $600 million in health care costs over 5 years.

"In response to the overwhelming evidence of the harms of tobacco use, the tobacco industry continues to spend millions of dollars per day encouraging youth and adults to smoke, and opposing proven tobacco control policies that reduce smoking rates and improve public health," said Christopher Hansen, president of ACS CAN. "The most effective way to tackle tobacco use and save lives is for lawmakers to protect and pass strong tobacco control laws in the states." The use of tobacco products remains the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, killing approximately 443,000 Americans and costing $96 billion in health care costs each year. Cigarette smoking is responsible for almost 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths, and 30% of all cancer deaths.

To get help quitting smoking, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345, or visit cancer.org/smokeout.

Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff

ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.

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