It’s not a report card anyone would be proud of: F, D, C, C.
Those are the grades given New Hampshire in the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2013 report.
For spending absolutely no money on tobacco prevention control and spending, New Hampshire earned a big fat F. It’s not the first time and it’s not the only reason the American Lung Association thinks the Granite State needs a lot of remedial work.
The report also takes New Hampshire lawmakers to task for lowering the cigarette tax at a time when many states are increasing it to increase revenue and price more people out of the tobacco habit. For that, the state earned a C.
The GOP-dominated Legislature lowered the cigarette tax by 10 cents a pack in July 2011, dropping it to $1.68. Supporters of the tax reduction claimed it would promote cross-border sales and actually increase revenues.
A year later, in July 2012, the numbers didn’t add up that way. Cigarette tax revenue was a hefty $11.5 million below projections.
Just when the state cut the tax 10 cents a pack, manufacturers increased their cigarette prices — 10 cents a pack. Consumers saw no change and retailers reported no spike in sales.
New Hampshire’s tax is considerably lower than adjacent states — and was before the tax decrease. Maine’s tax is $2 a pack, Massachusetts adds $2.51 and Vermont’s rate is $2.62.
Health experts claim higher prices are an effective way of discouraging children and teens from starting the habit.
Neighboring Massachusetts got a “B” for its relatively high cigarette tax, but fared little better than New Hampshire on the rest of the report card. It got an “F” for its tobacco cessation funding and a “D” for its smoking cessation insurance coverage. The state budgeted $6.7 million for anti-smoking programs, far short of the $90 million the Centers for Disease Control recommended. The Bay State did get an “A” for its successful efforts to ban smoking in virtually every public and private facility.