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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

Cancer advocates welcome tobacco tax hike on Guam

Cancer advocate on Guam welcome the increase in tobacco tax from $1 to $4 per pack, one of the highest in the U.S. states and territories. The tobacco tax is part of the 2019 budget that lapsed into law on Friday without Gov. Eddie Calvo’signature.

“ACS CAN applauds the 34th Guam Legislature and Governor Calvo for allowing the budget bill to lapse into law. The inclusion of this tobacco tax increase in the final budget will save lives and reduce the burden of tobacco in Guam,” said Cory Chun, ACS CAN Hawaii Pacific government relations director.

Tobacco use is the No. 1 one preventable cause of death in Guam, where nearly 27 percent of locals still smoke, significantly higher than the U.S. average. More than one in four adults on island and two in 10 of high school students still smoke, much more than the U.S. average

“We know that significant price increases of at least $1 per pack of cigarettes helps people who use tobacco quit successfully,” Chun said. “It also prevents young people from starting a deadly addiction in the first place. Fewer smokers in Guam will lead to less people developing cancer and other tobacco-related diseases, and reduced spending on treating these horrendous health effects from smoking. All in all, this new tobacco tax increase will reduce tobacco use, save lives and save money for Guam.”

In a separate statement, the Bureau of Community Health Services (BCHS) and the NCD Consortium said the tobacco tax increase is a critical health policy for Guam, where nine out of the top 10 leading causes of death from 2014 to 2016 are related to tobacco use.

“Over the last eight years we have made progress in reducing the burden of tobacco related illness on our island but more needs to done. We applaud the efforts of our partners and leaders who have contributed to this effort. We must all do our part in reducing the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases where we live, learn, work, play and practice our faith,” said Patrick Luces, acting Administrator of DPHSS BCHS. “Tobacco tax increases are the single most effective policy to reduce tobacco use.”

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids said tobacco tax increases offer a win-win solution to improving the health of residents and balancing budgets. “It is a health win, a budget win, and a political win. A health win because it reduces tobacco use. A budget win because it increases revenue. Finally, a political win because it is the will of the public,” the group said,

“Today, another positive step has been taken in order to protect our loved ones. However, with tobacco use rates continuing to be the highest in the nation,” the Consortium and TCAT said, as they asked for “more vigilance and to continue to make tobacco products less appealing and affordable.”

The NCD Consortium, Tobacco Control Action Team applauds the efforts of all the senators that supported a tobacco tax increase: Speaker Benjamin Cruz, Senators Joe San Agustin, Frank Aguon Jr., Telena Nelson, Louise Muna, Tom Ada, Fernando Esteves, Regine Biscoe Lee and James Espaldon.


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