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Tracking cigarette packs may boost public health, researchers claim


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tracking-cigarette-packs-may-boost-public-health-researchers-claimCBS News:

NEW YORK -- A federal program that let law enforcement trace cigarette packs from manufacturer to consumer would reduce interstate trafficking and boost the public health benefits of state cigarette tax policies, researchers say.


Without a national tracking system in place, smokers evade taxes, there's less of a barrier to youth smoking and local governments miss out on revenue, the authors of a new study contend.


Kevin Davis of the nonprofit research organization RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and his colleagues calculated that the cities of Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Providence and Washington, DC, combined, could collect between $690 million and $729 million per year in cigarette taxes if trafficking stopped.


"What is key about this is that these calculations are not actual losses in revenue," Davis said. "This is money that could be added to government income."


Davis and his team focused on five cities in the northeastern U.S. and estimated that if New York City eliminated trafficking, roughly 5 percent of young people there would never pick up a cigarette in the first place and adults would decrease their overall cigarette consumption by about 7 percent.


"Where illegal trafficking exists, taxes are not being paid, but also the person who buys the product pays less," said Joanna Cohen, director of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. She was not involved in the research.



Er, maybe the illegal trafficking exists because the government is trying to ban a legal product?

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