Archive for Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Legislative proposal would raise tobacco tax

Smokers fume at plan to increase price by 50 cents

October 17, 2007


Buying cigarettes in the state could soon become more expensive

The Kansas Health Policy Authority Board wants a 50 cent per pack increase in the tax on cigarettes to fund health programs. Enlarge video

The cost of cigarettes will rise like smoke if federal and state officials have their way.

Kansas Health Policy Authority board on Tuesday approved its recommendations for the upcoming legislative session, and increasing the tobacco tax was on the list. The move comes as federal lawmakers wrestle over a plan to raise the federal tax on cigarettes by 61 cents a pack.

The local response Tuesday was predictable, with many smokers voicing their disapproval and some nonsmokers standing in support of the measures.

"I think the whole sin tax thing is completely ridiculous," said Jim Pickard, a Lawrence resident and smoker. "They're not charging sin taxes if somebody prefers to have tea or other things. They're strictly applying it to smokers, drinkers."

The authority proposes raising $52 million annually by increasing the state cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack, to $1.29. The revenue would support health care initiatives and, it is hoped, discourage smoking.

The federal tax is part of a plan for a five-year, $35 billion increase for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides low-cost health coverage to qualifying children. But President Bush has vetoed the bill and attempts to override the veto are expected to fail. Votes are scheduled for Thursday.

Hiking the price of cigarettes won't discourage Pickard, who said he has watched the price steadily grow from about $1 when he first started smoking to more than $4 today.

"I have no interest in quitting," he said.

But to some nonsmokers, the rising costs are a welcome way to curb others' bad habits.

"The more money they have to spend, the more they're going to quit because they can't afford it," said Juliana Norris, a Kansas University student and nonsmoker.

While some smokers say they'll keep puffing regardless of cost, some say it's getting to the point where it might be time to change.

"If they get up to five bucks a pack, I'm going to have to quit," Lawrence resident Brad Harrell said. "It's already a ridiculous amount of money to hand out every day for a pack. If it keeps going up, that's way too much, really."

Tax increase or not, business won't change at the BP convenience store at Haskell Avenue and 19th Street, where cigarettes move like hotcakes.

Faisal Absar, the store's manager, predicted raising the tax won't dampen sales.

"People will still smoke," he said.


bd 10 years ago

Make it an even $1, these people are killing us!

bd(ex smoker) 11 years clean!

redneckwoman 10 years ago

This will just make more smoker's go to the reservation's to get their smokes. I know someone that already does and only pays about $10.00 a carton.

BigDog 10 years ago

I guess tobacco tax increases are the only way the state and federal governement can come up with as a new funding source.

I wish the state leaders and Governor Sebelius spent as much time trying to improve the private sector segment of the economy as the do finding ways to fund more government spending programs.

I know people will say that smoking has a major cost on the health care system, which is true but how big of a cost is it. The state already receives between $100,0000,000 - $125,000,000 yearly from tobacco taxes. If this new plan passes, the state would bring in another $52,000,000 annually. Do smokers cost the state $152,000,000 - $177,000,000 annually or is this just their latest funding source?

I know some people will say that this is fine because they are not a smoker (and neither am I). I am concerned because when this well runs dry, what is the next source for funding of state programs? Increased taxes on alcohol? Fatty foods?

No matter how you slice it ...... this would be a $52,000,000 tax increase on Kansans.

Becca 10 years ago

I am a smoker. I could sit here and whine and cry about how hard it is to quit smoking but I won't, cause I made the choice to start in the first place. What pisses me off to no end about the smoking vs. drugs and alcohol is everybody is so quick to sympathize with an alcoholic or a drug addict to get them help but they tell a smoker "Just quit". Well the way I see it, alcoholics chose to take the drink and drug addicts chose to shoot up. Alcohol and the many numerous addictive drugs do ten times more damage than cigarettes do, but where's the call to arms to tax these things to get your money? It's only because smoking is so widespread that we get short shafted all the time. Don't you just love puritans?

63BC 10 years ago

Redneck woman is right. Higher taxes will lead to evasion---either on reservations or though the black market. Let's just say this a proposal written from a poll, not an economics textbook

globalwarmerjoe 10 years ago

I think it's great how we tax smokers to no end citing health concerns for eveybody, and we give tax breaks to SUV drivers who dont harm anybody in any way. Thats progress in action.

jonas 10 years ago

"BigDog (Anonymous) says:

I guess tobacco tax increases are the only way the state and federal governement can come up with as a new funding source."

Smokers are about as second-hand citizen as you can get these days, since they're a super-minority and everybody else hates them (or at least their habit). It makes them easy to pick on. The result, as above posters have mentioned, will certainly be evasion through the variety of methods available. Then more budget imbalance as the govt. in question overspends based on exaggerated estimates of tax revenues. Whee!

bugmenot 10 years ago

Lots of states tax alcohol, by the way. It's not just smokers so-called "sin taxes" target. And, if you don't like the taxes, quit! Your lungs and family will thank you.

Godot 10 years ago

Since the extra funds are supposed to be used for children's health care, they should put the surcharge where it belongs: on fast food, soft drinks, candy, cookies, sweetend cereal, chips, pizza, etc.

dirkleisure 10 years ago

"Do smokers cost the state $152,000,000 - $177,000,000 annually?"

At least that much. Probably more.

BigDog 10 years ago

dirkleisure (Anonymous) says:

"Do smokers cost the state $152,000,000 - $177,000,000 annually?"

At least that much. Probably more.


dirkleisure 10 years ago

Smokers are costing me $582/year. Any increase in the tax on a pack of smokes is a tax decrease for me.

I say cut my taxes.

dirkleisure 10 years ago

Oh, and start sourcing your own nonsense.

Godot 10 years ago

Outlaw smoking.

Oh, wait, can't do that, need tax money from those poor, addicted folks.

BigDog 10 years ago

dirkleisure (Anonymous) says:

Oh, and start sourcing your own nonsense.

Here you go:

Clickker 10 years ago

ONE more cig is incrementally worse for a smoker. ONE more Big Mac is not necessarilly worse for someone who is hungry. It is just a fact Quit equating smoking to eating junk food. Dumb logic.

BigDog 10 years ago

2nd most expensive cost to state's health care system is fat people. They are costing the health care system over $657 million annually and they don't pay additional taxes like smokers to cover their costs. Why not a tax on obese people?

Godot 10 years ago

Obesity is the greatest health threat facing our children today. Junk food must be taxed to the point where only the rich can afford it. So sayeth Big Government in 2010

jonas 10 years ago

"Clickker (Anonymous) says:

ONE more cig is incrementally worse for a smoker. ONE more Big Mac is not necessarilly worse for someone who is hungry."

I don't think that either of those statements can definitively be labeled as truth.

Godot 10 years ago

"Half of Britons will be obese by 2050, landmark study warns By DANIEL MARTIN - More by this author »

Last updated at 08:58am on 17th October 2007

Comments (41)

Obesity is more dangerous than smoking and will dramatically shorten the lives of millions, a landmark study has found.

While smoking reduces life by an average of ten years, the research says being seriously overweight can cut life expectancy by as much as 13 years....."


BigDog 10 years ago

By the way, I did not say that I supported such a tax ... was just bring up another major cost to the health care system.

bd 10 years ago

But standing next to an obese person will not kill you!

bugmenot 10 years ago

No, you're deflecting the argument by saying "Well, overating is bad, too - why don't we tax it?" It's basically the same arguing technique kids use ("You're being bad right now." "Well, so's my brother.") The fact that obesity is another largely self-inflicted problem that's increasing heath care costs and killing people doesn't make smoking any less of a problem or make the cigarette tax any less valid.

Smokers: Smoking is really bad for you. If you want to do it, it'll cost you because it ends up costing the American and Kansas taxpayers. You'd think that a) the incredibly heightened risk of dying a slow, terrible death, b) putting your kids at risk for ending up the same way (either via second hand smoke or by picking up their parents' nasty habit), c) smelling awful and fouling up your car, home, and office, and d) having to pay for it would be enough of a disincentive. It's obviously not, so it'll get incrementally more expensive for those who choose to take the risk.

Godot 10 years ago

"bd (Anonymous) says:

But standing next to an obese person will not kill you!"

Depends on where you are standing.

But, seriously, folks, taxing smokers to pay for children's health care makes absolutely no sense, and taxing smokers to make them quit smoking is ridiculous, too.

If you want smokers to quit smoking, outlaw tobacco use. Period.

Becca 10 years ago

logicsound04 (Anonymous) says:

1) We can't tax illegal drugs 2) We don't tax pills and alcohol because of two very powerful lobbies-Big Pharma and Big Booze 3) The difficulty of quitting cigarettes is far less than the difficulty of quitting alcohol or shooting up. (I was a smoker for 4 years and quit, so I know)

  1. Oh, yeah? So explain to me why it is I need a tax stamp to buy me some Mary Jane?
  2. You smoked for 4 years? I've smoked for 13 years. The longer you smoke, the harder it gets. And I still have no sympathy for alcoholics and drug addicts.

Oh, here's my source on the tax stamp before anybody goes to screaming:

Becca 10 years ago

I can guarantee you that if they outlawed tobacco people would still smoke. Coke, meth, and marijuana are all illegal too, and people still do that. It's called the black market.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 10 years ago

"... taxing smokers to make them quit smoking is ridiculous.... If you want smokers to quit smoking, outlaw tobacco use. Period."

That sort of "cold-turkey" approach won't fly with most smokers. You've got to wean them slowly, and progressively, with a tax.

Godot 10 years ago

Taxing tobacco will be more effective in reducing the number of people who smoke than will outlawing tobacco sales????


Godot 10 years ago

There seems to be one thing several can agree upon: the goal of taxing tobacco is to reduce tobacco use; eventually the funding for the health plan will diminish to the point that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, the government will have to set its sights on another sin against health that it can tax in order to pay for this entitlement.

Calliope877 10 years ago

Since the government is already collecting on taxes of illegal drug sales, they should just make marijuana legal -- think of how much the economy would boom if that happened. Brownies, anyone?

erod0723 10 years ago

Another crappy article from the LJW staff. Good job at mixing up statistics and weaving unconnected items together. Does the LJW even try anymore to write articles, or do they have a computer just aggregate articles online and then have hack "journalists" compile the results?

Echoes 10 years ago

Nicotine addiction is as hard to beat as almost any narcotic. The fact that tobacco is legal just makes it easier to continue using it. I smoked for 30 years and it took six or seven times to finally quit. I sympathize with those who are still addicted, but I hope the State taxes tobacco out of reach for the average income person.

There is a host of services that the State can provide with the proceeds. Health care assistance for low income children could be one of them. There are a lot of elderly with health care issues as well.

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