D.C. Passes Highest State Cigarette Tax

Washington, D.C. – Anti-smoking advocates are celebrating in Washington, D.C., following Mayor Muriel Bowser’s sign-off on a $2 tax hike on cigarettes and passage of the District of Columbia’s 2019 budget. Effective October 1, the D.C. cigarette tax will increase from $2.50 to $4.50 per pack — the highest state tax in the country. The bill also provides funds to implement a law that prevents the sale of tobacco to individuals under 21 and dedicates $1 million to tobacco cessation programs.

In an interview with The Washington Times, Stuart Berlow, state government relations director, said:

“This isn’t about generating revenue. It’s about raising the price to create a disincentive for youth so that people buy less cigarettes and, ultimately, will quit smoking.”

The American Heart Association projects that this policy will save 2,000 lives, help 5,300 adults quit smoking, and decrease youth smoking by more than 20 percent. In addition to cessation programs, the $5.2 million new dollars generated from the tax will support local children’s programs.

Congratulations and thank you to board member, Dr. Federico Asch, and You’re the Cure advocate, Deb Wells, who were among dozens of Raise It For Health DC coalition members who appealed to councilmembers and helped make this happen. In addition to the AHA, coalition members included the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association, Breathe DC, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, DC Fiscal Policy Institute and March of Dimes.

“It’s not often that you have the chance to save a life,” Wells said. “I’m proud of the D.C. Council for passing this increase to the cigarette tax and investing in cessation, but also because they have worked together over the past several years to implement a number of tobacco-control measures that are making a difference in the health of their constituents.” Get involved with upcoming activities here.  

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