Raising federal cigarette taxes by $1.10 a pack over five years would cut teenage smoking by an average 42 percent and prevent nearly 1 million premature deaths, Vice President Al Gore says.
Campaigning for the Clinton administration's embattled anti-tobacco legislation, Gore drew on a new Treasury Department analysis contending that higher prices will keep many young people from smoking."Nearly as many Americans die every single day from the effects of smoking as died on that one day 85 years ago in the sinking of the Titanic," Gore said in remarks prepared for delivery Monday at a legislative conference of the National Parent-Teacher Association in Arlington, Va. The ocean liner disaster took about 1,500 lives.
"If the president's anti-tobacco plan is passed by Congress it will reduce underage teen smoking by 42 percent over the next five years, saving nearly 1 million precious lives," he said.
Gore's office said the projected estimate is that 991,000 smoking-related deaths would be avoided if the five-year plan is carried out.
The Treasury study concludes that the best way to reduce the overall impact of smoking on the nation's future health is to reduce tobacco use by young people. The study contends the most dependable way of doing that is to make cigarettes more expensive.
Gore cited surveys showing that teen smoking drops by about 7 percent for each 10 percent increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes.
The Treasury study said a combination of price increases and restricted access to cigarettes would over five years reduce premature deaths by amounts ranging from 33 percent in Washington state to 51 percent in Kentucky.