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Health Groups Seek Veto Of Philip-Morris Tax Break

Public health groups are asking the governor to veto a part of the state budget that would make moist cigarettes products cheaper and more affordable to Wisconsin kids. The change to so-called “weight based” taxation would lower the overall price of smokeless tobacco products like Copenhagen and Skoal—both of which are manufactured by Philip Morris and together account for roughly half of the teenage smokeless tobacco market.

“Basically the price of this tax break for Philip Morris is our kids’ health,” said Gail Sumi, Wisconsin Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society. “Kids have limited budgets and limited means to buy these products. If you make them cheaper you’ve just made it easier for kids to get hooked,” said Sumi.

Currently moist tobacco products are taxed based on a percentage of their price. This ensures all such products are taxed equally, regardless of brand, and allows the tax to automatically increase with inflation. Changing the tax to one based on the products’ weight would by default lower the tax for many of Philip Morris’s premium products.

Premium smokeless tobacco weighs less than lower quality tobacco and Philip Morris dominates the premium market.

Moreover, tobacco manufacturers can manipulate their products’ weight to minimize taxation. For example, some of the newest super lightweight snuff products weigh as little as one-eighth that of a standard can of traditional moist tobacco. Over time this leads to less tobacco tax revenue for the state and more tobacco users.

“Considering Wisconsin already spends $2.8 billion annually on tobacco-related health care costs, helping Big Tobacco make its products cheaper and more appealing to kids doesn’t make sense,” said Maureen Busalacchi, Executive Director of SmokeFree Wisconsin. “We’re asking Governor Walker to veto this provision and help protect our kids from a lifetime of tobacco induced health problems and our state from a future of tobacco-related budget burdens.”

According to a 2009 survey by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, smokeless tobacco use among middle and high school kids has remained steady or increased in recent years, even as the teen smoking cigarettes rate hit an all-time low. In fact, the percentage of 10th graders using smokeless tobacco, “increased significantly” according to the survey, from five to 6.5 percent in just 2009.

Many smokeless tobacco products are fruit flavored and packaged to look similar to candy— a marketing tactic clearly aimed at kids.

“It’s bad enough tobacco giants are forever trying to mask their harmful products in harmless packaging, the last thing we need to do is make their products cheaper and even more appealing to kids by lowering the tax,” said Sumi. “We hope Governor Walker agrees and takes action to protect Wisconsin kids by vetoing the weight-based tax change.”

Smokeless tobacco contains two to three times the amount of nicotine found in a cigarette. Smokeless tobacco users face upwards of 50 times greater risk of developing gum and cheek cancer as well as significantly higher rates of cancers of the larynx and esophagus.

The term cigarettes, as normally employed, refers to a tobacco cigarette, but can be utilized like devices holding in other herbaceous plants, such as eugenia caryophyllatums. A cigarette is differentiated from a cigar by its modest sizing, utilization of treated leafage, and paper wrap, which is usually white hot, though other coloring materials are sometimes usable. Cigars are mostly compiled totally of whole-leaf tobacco plant.

Rates of cheap smokes changes widely, and have altered substantially over the course of human history since cigarettes were 1st wide used in the mid-19th century. While rates of smoke have over time leveled off or turned down in the highly developed world, they continue to up-rise in evolving states. Nicotine, the main psychotropic chemical substance in baccy and therefore cigarettes, has been shown to be psychologically habit forming, although it does not generate a physiologic addiction.

Cheap cigarettes usage by pregnant women has also been shown to stimulate birth defects, including mental and physical disabilities.