CDA urges members to sign tobacco tax petition

CDA and the Save Lives California coalition are encouraging supporters to sign an online petition urging the state Legislature to raise the state's tobacco tax and have launched a statewide digital advertising campaign to mobilize support for the effort.

Dentists can sign the petition by visiting: savelivesca.com/supportca.html

"By signing this petition, you will help CDA and the Save Lives California coalition keep pressure on the Legislature to take the necessary actions to help prevent tobacco use, which is harmful to oral health, kills thousands of lives every year and costs billions in health care costs," said CDA President Walt Weber, DDS.

Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death, claiming 40,000 lives annually in California, and costs the state $13 billion annually in health care expenses, including $3.5 billion in taxpayer dollars for the Medi-Cal program. In addition to increased risk of cancer, tobacco use contributes to tooth decay, gum disease and tooth discoloration.

The coalition is sponsoring new tobacco tax legislation in the special legislative session on health care, SB X2-13 and AB X2-16, to raise the tobacco tax by $2 per pack, up from the current tax of 87 cents per pack, which ranks 35th in the nation.

Raising the cost of tobacco products is a proven way to prevent and decrease use. When the cost of a pack of cigarettes increases 10 percent, youth smoking decreases as much as 7 percent. The revenue raised by the tax, an estimated $1.5 billion in the first year, will also help offset the costs to the Medi-Cal program and fund smoking prevention and education programs. A recent field poll shows that 67 percent of California voters support a $2-per-pack tax increase.

The coalition is prepared to pursue a ballot measure for the November 2016 election if the Legislature does not act.

The digital ad campaign includes video spots on Facebook, Pandora radio and online ads that are running in various legislative districts across the state, highlighting the critical opportunity the Legislature has during its special session on health care to make an immediate, life-saving impact.

CDA is encouraging members to share the video ad below on social media.

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The Save Lives California coalition that CDA is a member of continues to move forward in its efforts to fight tobacco use during this year’s special legislative session on health care. The special session will resume when the Legislature returns from its summer recess on Aug. 17 and will include consideration of the coalition’s proposal to increase the state’s tobacco tax by $2 per pack, which would provide additional funding for the Medi-Cal program as well as smoking prevention and education programs.