April 11, 2009 - Rhode Island's leaders have taken decisive action to protect the state's kids and taxpayers from the devastating toll of tobacco use by increasing the state cigarette tax by $1 to $3.46 per pack (first state with a cigarette tax of $3 or more) making it the highest state cigarette tax in the nation. Rhode Island is also increasing the tax on most other tobacco products. Increased tobacco taxes are a win-win-win solution for Rhode Island -- a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, a financial win that will raise revenue to help alleviate budget shortfalls, and a political win that polls show is popular with the voters.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Rhode Island, claiming 1,600 lives each year and costing the state $506 million annually in health care bills, including $179 million in Medicaid payments alone. Government expenditures related to tobacco amount to a hidden tax of $728 each year on every Rhode Island household. While Rhode Island has made significant progress in reducing youth smoking, 15.1 percent of Rhode Island high school students smoke, and 1,400 more kids become regular smokers every year.
Reference: Rhode Island Cigarette Tax Increase Delivers Victory For Kids And Taxpayers; $1 Increase Gives State Highest Cigarette Tax In The Nation, Medical New Today, 4/9/2009.
Click on image to enlarge, the Rhode Island state flag..