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Moffitt Cancer Center wants to more than double its current cigarette tax take

The move would raise $22 million annually.

Moffitt Cancer Center wants to increase the share it gets of cigarette taxes consumers pay when they buy a pack of smokes.

The cancer hospital currently receives 4 percent of the tax. They want to collect 10 percent, which would raise an additional $22 million annually.

The increase in revenue would help fund a new inpatient clinical research center and an expansion campus that would be used for both clinical and research applications. 

The existing Tampa-based hospital’s core buildings are all more than 30 years old and the hospital overall is at or near capacity on a daily basis. The hospital has also run out of room in its primary research complex.

The hospital says the new revenue is needed to expand space because it is unable to attract top scientists without adequate workspace. 

“It is critical that our legislators in Tampa Bay and Florida recognize the vital need to ensure this peerless state institution can continue to grow, modernize and recruit the world’s best minds,” said Moffitt President and CEO Alan List.

Moffitt Cancer Center is in prime position to get its request granted: Clearwater GOP state Rep. Chris Sprowls is slated to be House Speaker for the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions, giving the Tampa Bay area a good shot at its funding priorities.

If approved, Moffitt Cancer Center would raise $205 million to augment an already-pledged investment of $332 million. That will fund the second phase of an inpatient clinical research center on the hospital’s Hillsborough campus. The project will increase patient capacity and fund upgrades and expansion for technology and research.

Another $191 million would support new clinical and research facilities in Pasco County to allow the hospital to meet future demand and establish a research park that could be used to attract biotech partners and expand service in the region.

Moffitt serves patients throughout the state as well as in every state in the nation and 130 foreign countries. The hospital is ranked among the top 10 in the U.S. and the best in the Southeastern states. 

Moffitt currently serves more than 68,000 individual patients annually, and that number is expected to surpass 100,000 patients by 2026.

“Florida has the second highest cancer burden in America, and no place in the state responds like Moffitt Cancer Center — pursuing cures, saving lives and reducing suffering,” said Mel Sembler, a member of Moffitt’s board of advisors.

“Our leaders in the Legislature, I am sure, will recognize that Moffitt is a unique asset for Florida. It has put us on the map as a leader in scientific research, discovery, and invention and at the forefront of preventing and curing cancer.”

Moffitt’s total economic output in Florida is $2.4 billion. The cancer hospital supports more than 13,000 jobs statewide.

“Moffitt is a giant economic engine that has demonstrated a phenomenal return on investment,” former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack III said. “Its economic impact is jeopardized if Moffitt can’t grow to meet demands. I am a small government conservative, and this use of tobacco revenue is a no-brainer for growing Florida’s economy.”

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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