Moffitt director: Hike cigarette tax to fund cancer research

02/19/09 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:


Yesterday state Sen. Ted Deutch filed a bill in Tallahassee to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1.

Deutch, a Democrat from Boca Raton, hopes the tax increase will discourage people from smoking, reduce the number of smoking-related illnesses, and raise an estimated half-billion dollars a year to help balance the state’s budget.

Deutch said that some of the revenue from a tobacco tax increase could be directed toward cancer research.

This morning, WMNF asked the director of Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center, William Dalton, for his opinion on the proposed cigarette tax increase.

“Well I think it has to happen. Unfortunately, cigarettes and tobacco are the leading cause of cancer. So to raise the tax, what you’re going to do is reduce the number of people smoking, especially young people. If you can reduce the number of young people smoking, then they don’t become addicted to tobacco, and their lives are happier, and they live longer happier lives. Those that do – that will pay the tax – it will in turn be reinvested in research that ultimately, hopefully, will help them even get off tobacco, because that’s a major part. But also to hopefully help them with the diseases that are manifest from that. So, it’s a good investment.”

Florida’s existing tax on cigarettes, 33.9 cents per pack, is among the lowest in the country.

Moffitt Cancer Center

Sen. Ted Deutch

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