What Will I-773 Do?
I-773 will lead to an additional $0.60 tax per pack of 20 cigarettes, generating $160 million in fiscal year 2003, $159 million in fiscal year 2004, and more than $155 million in every fiscal year thereafter. These revenues will fund 50,000 additional slots in the Basic Health Plan, fully fund the state’s tobacco control and prevention program, and finance programs that reduce disease among low-income families. Through decreases in smoking and increases in access to health care, I-773 will save Washington an additional $630 million in future long-term, tobacco-related health expenditures.
What Effect will I-773 Have on Smoking?
The increased cost of cigarettes will lead to substantial reductions in cigarette smoking by deterring smoking initiation, prompting smoking cessation, and reducing the average cigarette consumption among continuing smokers. This will be particularly true for youth who are more sensitive to price factors. Over the past decade, many states have raised their cigarette tax rates. These tax increases significantly reduced cigarette consumption in every single one of these states.
What Benefits Will I-773 Create for Businesses? Aside from the obvious benefit of reducing youth smoking, a tobacco tax will translate into better employee health, and financial savings for businesses. Less smoking means a healthier workforce. A healthier workforce means higher productivity and longevity among employees.
- Employees who smoke are 50% more likely to call in sick to work than non-smokers, incurring higher temporary replacement and sick leave costs, as well as productivity losses.
- Smokers also tend to have higher turnover rates, die younger, and retire sooner, all of which lead to higher recruitment and retraining expenses.
- Smokers lose work time to smoke breaks. An employee who spends 30 minutes a day on cigarette breaks loses 6% of the entire work year.
- Workplaces that still allow smoking face lower employee morale, higher risks of fire and property damage, higher cleaning and maintenance costs, and increased costs for accidental injury and related workers compensation. For these employers, reduced smoking translates into reduced costs.