Tax proposal that makes dollars and sense for Kansas

Kansas is broke. The Legislature needs to raise $1 billion to $2 billion in new revenue just to get through the next two years. Plus, the Legislature needs to come up with a new plan – and revenue — to fund K-12 education and comply with a state Supreme Court ruling.

Each Kansas household – whether they use tobacco or not – pays $779 annually to cover the government-paid expenditures caused by tobacco use.

The solutions to the state’s budget mess won’t all be easy, but there is one possible solution that stands out: Raising the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products brings in substantial revenue for essential state services – but more importantly, tobacco taxes have HUGE health benefits — that’s why this is a tax increase with strong support from Kansans of all political affiliations.

  • This tax increase will protect a generation of Kansan kids from a lifetime of tobacco use. Regular and significant price increases are the most effective way to prevent kids from becoming adult smokers. A $1.50 increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes will prevent 16,200 Kansas kids from becoming adult tobacco users.
  • This tax will help adult smokers quit. Seventy-percent of smokers want to quit using tobacco. This price change will prompt 20,000 current users to quit.
  • This tax will improve birth outcomes. By reducing smoking among pregnant women, this tax will reduce the number of smoking-affected pregnancies and births by 3,500 in the next five years.

Why is it so important to all Kansans that we act to reduce tobacco use? Tobacco remains the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the country. In fact, smoking kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns and illegal drugs combined. And tobacco remains the No. 1 preventable cause of cancer. Smoking is attributed to 28.6 percent of all cancer deaths in Kansas.

Fair tax on all tobacco products

The state tax on other tobacco products, such as cigars and smokeless tobacco, has not changed since 1972. The tax rate on these other tobacco products needs to be brought in line with tax rates on cigarettes, otherwise we will continue to incentivize kids to use these products, many of them marketed with flavors that attract young users to a lifetime of tobacco addiction.

Health care savings:

Smoking is a huge driver of costs for the state — especially in KanCare, the state Medicaid program. Look at these numbers: $237.4 million/year of KanCare spending is directly caused by tobacco use and smoking-related disease. And $1.12 billion/year of health care costs in Kansas is directly caused by smoking.

But perhaps the most alarming number is this one: Each Kansas household – whether they use tobacco or not – pays $779 annually to cover the government-paid expenditures caused by tobacco use. 

Tobacco tax increases are a common sense issue. Significantly raising the price of tobacco decreases the number of youth who start smoking, increases the number of smokers who quit, cuts health care costs, and helps to reduce deaths from lung and other cancers, heart attacks, strokes, and other preventable diseases.

Significant tobacco tax increases improve health, reduce health care costs to the state, and raise reliable revenue.

Dozens of leading health organizations – including Health Forward, the American Heart Association and American Lung Association — are working with ACS CAN to advocate for a tobacco tax that will save thousands of lives. But we need your help. Get involved by signing on at

You can follow Hilary Gee on Twitter. 

Policy, Tobacco

Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 241-7006