Case Study: American Lung Association
Florida lawmakers in 2009 were considering a controversial proposal to raise Florida’s cigarette tax, at the time the fourth-lowest in the nation, by $1 per pack to generate additional state revenue for state-run health care programs. Advocates including the American Lung Association (ALA) also supported the higher cigarette tax as a means to reduce smoking levels among Florida’s youth and adults and to offset the state’s smoking-related health care costs. Florida’s tax of 34 cents per pack had not been raised in 15 years, but the cost of smoking to the state is increasing exponentially. Every year, Florida spends $6.32 billion in healthcare costs related to smoking through taxes to cover Florida’s Medicaid program and through added base costs in healthcare plans.
State economists estimated the extra $1 tax would generate about $1 billion in new net revenue, and the ALA estimated it would save nearly 80,000 Floridians from smoking-related deaths, help more than 100,000 adults quit smoking and prevent 165,800 youth from ever starting. Still, the tax faced position from some cigarette companies with influential Tallahassee lobbyists, from many anti-tax Republicans, and from smokers. ALA turned to Moore Communications Group (MCG) to develop a media outreach campaign that highlighted the state health care system’s need for additional tax revenue, and the tax’s likelihood of helping to reduce smoking – thereby saving untold lives for years to come.
MCG conducted national research on states’ cigarette taxes, developed a one-pager to be distributed among the Legislature, helped distribute letters of support for the tax to the editor in newspapers statewide and to the Governor, and created signs and other materials for a display at the Capitol. The Legislature ultimately passed the legislation, and the Governor signed it into law.
- Generated more than 163 media hits, including endorsement from 12 daily newspapers.
- Secured a $1 cigarette tax increase.