We have all been waiting with baited breath to see what legislation is going to emerge from the Tax Reform Council’s (TRC) recently published recommendations. Today, the legislative committee that will make those decisions will meet at the Capitol, I presume to start to hammer out a bill, which is ultimately to be voted up or down as a whole by the Chambers. That said, I plan to make the next couple of Blogs about our take on parts of the TRC’s recommendations.

First, I’d like to address the proposal to increase the State Tobacco Excise Tax. The TRC proposes to increase the cigarette tax by a mere $0.31/pack, with an index for inflation for future years. While we applaud the desire to increase the tax on this product, $0.31 is not nearly enough to deter smoking by kids or adults. The Council argues that it is “mindful of the importance of business in our border communities and therefore recommends keeping the rate competitive with neighboring states.”

Remember that quote and read these statistics from the American Cancer Society:
• 90 % of adult smokers started before they were 18 years old;
• For every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes, there is a 6% reduction in use by kids;
• $1/pack tax increase would prevent about 71,000 kids from starting to smoke; and
• Save the state Medicaid program almost $485 million over 5 years

Now see if you can answer this:
Why do we want to be “competitive” when selling products which irrefutably cause cancer and drive up healthcare costs?

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