Multiple organizations disappointed by defeat of Initiated Measure 25

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the South Dakota State Medical Association are disappointed because IM25 would have raised tobacco taxes by a dollar per pack of cigarettes. The measure was shot down by voters in South Dakota by a margin of 55% to 45%.

Members of the organizations said opponents of the measure spent more than $6.5 million to influence South Dakotans. The representatives said the measure would have saved lives while raising $20 million to support technical education in South Dakota.

“Big tobacco did it again, using lies and deception to hide the high cost of tobacco in our state,” said David W. Benson, South Dakota government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “Passing this tax increase would have reduced long-term healthcare costs from smoking by $148 million and reduced the burden on South Dakota taxpayers, who are currently spending $756 per household per year on smoking-caused government expenditures.”

“In addition to the long-term health benefits and millions of dollars in cost savings for taxpayers in South Dakota, this measure would have provided significant economic development benefits for our state,” said E. Paul Amundson, M.D., a member of the American Heart Association’s statewide advocacy committee. “IM25 could have helped the businesses in our state and spurred economic development by helping to provide a skilled, technical workforce. Without affordable technical school, our best and brightest students will continue to leave our state to look elsewhere for their future.”

“Smoking takes a major toll on health and greatly increases health-related expenses; it causes heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and other serious diseases,” said Christopher T. Dietrich, MD, president of the South Dakota State Medical Association. “Of all the kids who become new smokers each year, almost one-third will ultimately die from it. So in addition to reducing tobacco-related health care costs, the defeat of IM 25 means more kids will be exposed to the dangers of tobacco and face health challenges for their entire lives.”