Section 1: Collecting background information and data
Prepare for the campaign by conducting research necessary to frame a compelling message that will persuade key policymakers to champion the issue, and that will help you build grassroots support to win over the legislature and governor to your cause. Hard data is essential to showing projected economic and health benefits for the state and their constituents.
Topics include existing taxes, Medicaid spending, and the political climate for raising taxes and defending or expanding health access.
Over time, you will likely need to update this research as you refine your message and develop policy reports, talking points and fact sheets supporting your goal and rebutting opposition arguments.
The state budget
- What is the current fiscal environment in your state? Is there a budget deficit or surplus? Is there enough revenue to maintain or expand programs or are cuts being proposed?
- Compared to other states, how much of personal income is devoted to state and local government?
- Your state government’s finance office or legislature’s Ways and Means committees
- State- or university-based fiscal research centers; see examples
- Are there any problematic features of your state’s tax code (for example, a cap on revenue growth)?
- Have there been recent efforts to increase any state taxes? Were they successful? Who supported or opposed them?
- What is the current state tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products? When were the taxes last raised, and by how much?
- What are the current tobacco taxes in surrounding states?
- Who are the champions – and opponents - of raising tobacco taxes and of expanding Medicaid and other health programs both inside and outside of state government? Assess their capacity to influence legislative leadership, the governor and other key players in the state administration.
- Your state revenue department or the legislature’s taxation committee
- Lobbyists and activists
- State Cigarette Tax Rates & Rank
Tobacco-related health and economic costs
- What is the smoking rate in your state? Among children? Among adults? Among pregnant women? How does that compare to neighboring states with different tobacco tax rates?
- Compared to other states, how much funding is currently allocated to tobacco prevention and control efforts, including cessation services?
- How much do tobacco-related illnesses cost the state overall? What are the costs to the state Medicaid program in particular?
- What is the cost of tobacco-related illnesses to businesses in lost productivity?
- Your state health department
- Build your own charts using data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- “State Cigarette Tax Rates & Rank” (includes smoking rates)
- “State Tobacco-Related Costs and Revenues”
- “Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs—2007”
- CDC recommendations on tobacco control funding, compared to actual state spending
- What are the current Medicaid and SCHIP income-eligibility levels for children, parents and other groups? How do these compare with other states? With the national average?
- What percent of state residents are uninsured? What percent of low-income residents are uninsured? What proportion of the uninsured could be covered by expanding eligibility for Medicaid to higher income levels?
- What barriers block Medicaid enrollment? For example, burdensome sign-up requirements, lack of outreach, benefit limits, co-payments, shortage of providers.
- Have any recent polls assessed public support for a tobacco tax increase?
- What guidance do the polls offer about messages likely to resonate with the public?