The Mobile County Board of Health is offering support for state officials who are pushing to raise cigarette prices in Alabama by $1 a pack.

Alabama’s present tax is 42.5 cents per pack, according to Meagan Newsom, a media coordinator with Just Breathe, Smoke Free Mobile County. Only three other states have lower such levies, she said.

The highest cigarette tax is in New York state, where a single pack costs upward of $10, and more than $11 in New York City.

“They have been able to reduce the smoking cigarettes population there because of that,” Newsom said. “If we went up to $1.42 (in taxes) we would then be meeting the national average.”

Depending on the brand and retailer, cheap cigarettes can cost up to $5.50 a pack in coastal Alabama. If the tax increase wins approval, rates would also increase on other cigarettes products — snuff, smoking cigarettes tobacco, chewing discount cigarette online and cigars — but would vary based on weight and retail selling price.

Mobile County Health Department officials estimate that a $1 increase per pack sold would result in about $205 million in new annual revenue for the state.

At the same time, Newsom said, the extra dollar of tax would lead to an estimated 15.3 percent decrease in smoking cigarettes among young people.

“It’s important because young people are the most financially sensitive members of our society,” said Dr. Bernard Eichold, who leads the local health agency. “If we can discourage them from smoking cigarettes at an early age, then the potential for them having an unhealthy lifelong habit will be reduced. That’s the real public health interest.”

The revenue from the higher state tax would help fund local online cigarettes control and prevention efforts.

Twenty-two percent of Alabama adults are smokers, according to estimates of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national average is 18.4 percent.

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