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New York proposes 'health taxes'

ALBANY, N.Y., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Gov. David Paterson has proposed "health taxes" on cigarettes and soda to improve New Yorkers' health and raise about $650 million.

As part of his $134 billion budget, the Democratic governor has proposed raising New York's current cigarette tax of $2.75 to $3.75 per pack, which proponents predict will decrease cigarette use by 14 percent.

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"Estimates by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids found an increase of this magnitude would be expected to prevent more than 100,000 children from becoming smokers and cause more than 50,000 adult smokers to quit," Paterson said in a statement.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for more than 400,000 deaths per year, including the deaths of approximately 25,000 New Yorkers. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by HIV [human immunodeficiency virus], illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined."

The executive budget also proposes an excise tax of $7.68 per gallon for beverage syrups or simple syrups, and $1.28 per gallon for bottled soft drinks, powders or base product -- an approximately 1 cent per ounce increase in the cost of soft drinks. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a penny-per-ounce excise tax could reduce consumption of sugared beverages by more than 10 percent and that could help reduce the waistlines of New Yorkers, Paterson said.

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