Did you know that Pennsylvania has 20,025 deaths annually due to cigarette-related health problems and that this costs the state $9.4 billion in health care and lost productivity? On the other hand, PA receives $1.4 billion in tobacco revenue, but only spends 11% on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
This is appalling. The main problem is that our cigarette tax is only $1.60 per pack versus New York’s $4.35 and New Jersey’s $2.70. That is why you see a proliferation of tobacco discount stores along our borders with these states. In Matamoras alone there are 10 smoke shops (with little catchy names) within a mile stretch. New York State (NYS) and New Jersey residents can legally buy five cartons from each store. Even in my little town of Shohola, the board of supervisors saw fit to permit the construction of a smoke shop right over the NYS border.
A friend of mine recently commented about smoking in PA, “You almost can’t afford not to smoke in PA because it’s so cheap.” Recently I contacted Sen. Lisa Baker and Rep. Mike Peifer regarding raising the cigarette tax and they both said, “It won’t happen.” Why? They say it’s because the PA cigarette lobby is too strong and Governor Corbett’s no-tax pledge. Meanwhile, the tobacco lobby has given $53.4 million to our state candidates and political parties.
By my elected officials not raising cigarette taxes on all forms of smoking, chewing, snuffing and e-cigarettes, etc., they are condoning smoking and the deaths of 55 people per day in PA. That’s immoral and shameful. You all have blood on your hands and how do you sleep at night?