Search This Blog

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Email To SC Rep Gary Simrill Concerning Cigarette Tax

Hello again Gary --
Good to chat with you yesterday afternoon about the SC cigarette tax situation.
Here is some very pertinent and important local information I hope you will carefully consider going into next week's SC House debate on H.3567:
1)  As to the need for more annual state funding for youth tobacco health-risk / use-prevention education (viz., that is of sustained high quality and consistently reaches all 46 counties of our state over time):   
Attached is very recent information (in graph form) from Rock Hill Public School District #3 describing the troubling prevalence of under-legal-age, self-reported (so, potentially even these survey numbers are under-reported) tobacco product use by grade level.  Please particularly note the 35% self-reported smoking prevalence among 11th graders -- more than 1 out of every 3 students in that age range! 
[source: "Safe & Drug-Free Schools Survey Results 2007-2008" presentation by Dr. Luanne Kokolis and Susan York (Rock Hill Public School District #3 speakers), at the "All-on-Board" Rock Hill Town Meeting (held on 05/01/2008 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM)] 
2)  As to your concern about the adverse effects on local small businesses of raising the SC per-pack tax on cigarettes, given that you represent a constituency in a "border county" with North Carolina (that might have a lower per-pack tax on cigarettes if our state were to raise its tax by more than 28-cents at this point in time) --  
a)  In the same Rock Hill Rock Hill Public School District #3 "Safe & Drug-Free Schools Survey" presentation on May 1st that I referenced for you in 1) above, students self-reported that they obtained tobacco products from:
  • "Home"      26%
  • "Friends"      7% 
  • "Store"          4%  
The above numbers imply that we need a lot more effort to find out where the other 63% of the time our local Rock Hill Public School District #3 students, who are under-legal-age for purchasing tobacco products, are actually getting them! 
b)  In the "2006 South Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey" [published in June, 2007; full report can be accessed online at],  statewide data on "Usual Source of Cigarettes" [printed page 18] breaks down as follows:
  • Middle School current smokers 
    • Borrowed / "Bummed"                         21.2%
    • OTHER                                                    20.2%
    • Gave someone $ to buy                       19.4% 
    • Took from store or family member      17.7%
    • Given by someone > 18 years old      10.5%
    • Bought in a store                                     9.0 %
    • Bought from a vending machine         1.9% 
  • High School current smokers who are under age 18
    • Gave someone $ to buy                       31.6% 
    • Borrowed / "Bummed"                          21.8%
    • Bought in a store                                 21.5 %
    • OTHER                                                     11.2%
    • Given by someone > 18 years old         8.9%
    • Took from store or family member        4.3%
    • Bought from a vending machine         0.7%  
c)  And, also in the "2006 South Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey", statewide data on "Place of Cigarette Purchase" and "ID Request and Refusal to Sell to Minors" [printed pages 19 and 20, respectively -- please see the attached excerpted pages (PDF file) for your convenience] are quite attention-getting.  Note that the survey results displayed on both pages are for "current smokers under 18 years of age":
  • Middle schoolers & place of purchase  (see page 19)
    • [Gas stations + Convenience stores]  =  44.7%   yikes!
    • OTHER  =  47.5%     << more effort needed here especially -- statewide!
  • High schoolers & place of purchase  (see page 19)
    • [Gas stations + Convenience stores]  =  61.5%   yikes!
    • OTHER  =  28.1% 
  • ID request & Refusal to Sell to Minors  (see page 20
    • more than 60% of the time NEITHER ID request NOR sales refusal were reported as happening to the students surveyed -- regardless of whether it was an underage middle schooler or an underage high schooler trying to buy the cigarettes! 
If, as you mentioned to me yesterday, you are legislatively advocating for local small businesses in York County, when you talk with them about their stance on raising our SC cigarette tax in relation to North Carolina's cigarette tax, please first be sure they are doing their part and abiding by the Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006 [Section 16-17-500, as amended, Code of Laws of SC, 1976 (effective August 21, 2006)], which as you well know, states that: 
"... youth under the age of 18 years must not purchase, attempt to purchase, possess, or attempt to possess a tobacco product, or present or offer proof of age that is false or fraudulent for the purpose of purchasing or possessing a tobacco product". 
 [for more related info you can pass on to local small businesses, see also,]
As one of your long-time SC House District 46 constituents, thank you very much in advance for your additional, careful attention to the very important issues at hand here related to the fair and properly-appropriated taxation of cigarettes in our state, especially as regards the future health of youth in our state.  And, remember, the single-most effective deterrent to underage youth smokers becoming regular daily smokers is product price.
And, thank you also in advance for your careful consideration of my specific concerns regarding our state's management of the major states' Tobacco Settlement Agreement revenues paid into the specially-legislated Healthcare Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund [SC Code of Laws, Section 11-11-170, (B) (1)] since 2002. 
As a physician who, over the past couple of decades, has done his part working long-and-hard to try to improve the health of all my individual patients (and especially those who legally purchase and, despite my best preventive health counseling efforts, choose to continue to smoke and/or chew/dip tobacco products); and, who has also worked diligently at the doctor's office and community level to support the education of all youth and young adults throughout our county about the serious health risks of tobacco smoking -- I am now particularly looking for you to work hard from your public-policy-setting vantage point as my state legislator to do the same on the "costly tobacco problem" we all are having to bear in our state.  
For the entire 32 years of my medical career, cigarette smoking has remained THE NUMBER ONE preventable cause of disease and death in our state and throughout our nation.    When are "we" as a society going to finally get it together enough to finally knock cigarette smoking out of that #1 preventable cause position!
Well, here's your opportunity to provide some inspired, "common sense" leadership in the House debate next week on this historic issue -- Wes Hayes has done his part over the past couple of months in the Senate -- now it's your turn!     
Please feel free to call me [CP: 417-2770, 8 AM to 9 PM, Mon.-Sat., 1 PM to 9 PM Sun.] if you have any questions.
Best regards,
Dave  Keely 
1783 Sharonwood Lane
Rock Hill, SC 29732

No comments:

Blog Archive


Subscribe Now: Feed Icon