Archive for Thursday, January 24, 2008

Proposed state cigarette tax would increase with inflation

January 24, 2008

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Cigarette tax could include annual increase

A Kansas health policy authority is asking legislators to increase the state cigarette tax in hope of expanding health care coverage and offsetting the costs of smoking. Enlarge video

— A proposed 50-cent-per-pack increase in the state cigarette tax may prove even more difficult now.

State health policy officials are recommending a cigarette tax that would grow annually with the inflation rate.

Tracy Russell, Kansas Health Policy Authority manager of government affairs, said the proposal was crafted this way for two reasons.

First, as the tax increased it would continue to serve as a deterrent. It also would continue to provide enough to pay for services whose costs would also increase, Russell said.

"We asked ourselves, how do we keep the tax meaningful as a deterrent," she said.

Tobacco causes 4,000 deaths and $930 million in health care costs each year in Kansas.

Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, supports the KHPA package, but said the inflation increase "makes it more difficult and more complicated."

A cigarette tax bill was introduced in the House, and is expected to be considered soon. The state tax on cigarettes is now 79 cents per pack; the proposed increase would make it $1.29 per pack.

Marcia Nielsen, executive director of the KHPA, met with senators Wednesday afternoon. She defended increasing the cigarette tax as a way to pay for expansion of health coverage and offset the costs of smoking. Not all lawmakers bought her argument.

"This bothers me. Where do we stop?" asked Sen. Ralph Ostemeyer, R-Grinnell.

Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, said the increase would cause smokers to buy less expensive cigarettes in neighboring states or on the Internet.

Nielsen said studies have shown that state cigarette tax increases cause that to happen in the short-term, but that many smokers eventually return to buying cigarettes close to home out of convenience.

Comments

Godot 7 years, 2 months ago

Great, if a tax can be tied to inflation, then the budget can be limited by the inflation rate, as well. TABOR!

toefungus 7 years, 2 months ago

Why not increase with inflation. My property taxes do. But a better idea would be no tax increase at all. The more programs the state has the worse for all taxpayers. Eventually, cig sales and taxes will not increase enough to support all these new programs and the costs will be added to non-smokers too.

Gabe Hoffman 7 years, 2 months ago

I say we tax all people who do anything "sinful". I suppose that would be the only fair way. Or then again, we can just raise money off people who smoke and drink to subsidze the rest of us.

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