Raise taxes on tobacco products


“Back in October, an article published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health titled Flavored-Little-Cigar and Flavored-Cigarette Use Among U.S. Middle and High School Students, authored by Brian A. King, Ph.D., M.P.H., Michael A. Tynan, Shanta R. Dube, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Rene Arrazola, M.P.H., found that 42.4 percent of youth who smoke are smoking flavored little cigars or flavored cigarettes, including menthol.

In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was enacted and prohibited the use of flavors, except menthol, in cigarettes. However, flavored little cigars are still manufactured and sold with candy and fruit flavorings. The flavors make smoking more attractive to young people and make them less likely to quit once they’ve begun smoking. These flavors should be prohibited.

In addition, little cigars are taxed at a lower rate than cigarettes making them more appealing to youth due to their lower price. In order to protect young people from the health harms associated with tobacco use, as long as tobacco products continue to be sold, I would like to see Michigan raise the price of both cigarettes and other tobacco products, including little cigars. This would significantly reduce both the youth and adult smoking rate, reduce health care expenditures, and raise new revenue for our state, which could potentially be used for more tobacco prevention programs.

Kristi Steger