Archive for Wednesday, September 17, 2008

State health officials seek 75-cent increase in tax on pack of cigarettes

Increase of 75 cents per pack recommended

Smokers in Kansas could see a big jump in the cost of a pack of cigarettes. State health officials will ask lawmakers to consider a 75-cent increase per pack.

September 17, 2008


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Do you favor increasing the state cigarette tax to help fund some health care costs?

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Would a 75-cent increase in the cigarette tax alter your smoking habits?

It might decrease my smoking, but not by much. I would just try to conserve them more, but it wouldn’t be a huge difference.

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— It might seem odd to seek a 75-cent increase in the state tax on cigarettes after the Legislature refused to consider a 50-cent increase this year.

But that's what the Kansas Health Policy Authority plans to do.

Marcia Nielsen, executive director of KHPA, said on Wednesday that there were several reasons why a larger tax increase may be more politically viable this time:

¢ When the Legislature meets in January, lawmakers will have just gotten through an election, so House members won't face voters again until 2010 and senators until 2012.

¢ The number of uninsured Kansans is increasing.

¢ And because state revenues are getting tighter, lawmakers may be more ready to consider a tax increase to take care of health care needs.

"A nonelection year with a tight budget and an increasing problem that affects thousands of Kansans make passage of a tobacco user fee possible. We can have meaningful health reform in our state and have a vehicle to pay for that," Nielsen said.

The current Kansas tax on a pack of cigarettes is 79 cents. Increasing that by 75 cents would raise the tax to $1.54 per pack.

Under the KHPA recommendations, revenue from the increase - about $69 million - would be used to expand health care coverage to low-income Kansans.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who has supported the 50-cent increase in the past, said she would support a 75-cent increase.

"There are a number of health risks tied to smoking and Governor Sebelius supports increasing the tax as proposed by KHPA," said spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran. "In addition, she continues to support increasing the tobacco tax as it's a good deterrent to teenagers."

KHPA also will seek a statewide ban on smoking in indoor public places, such as restaurants and bars, another policy legislators rejected last session.


samsnewplace 9 years, 9 months ago

It doesn't matter the cost, it's an addiction and people will pay.

Jeff_75110 9 years, 9 months ago

If they want to increase taxes on tabacco so be it, BUT they need to raise the taxes on beer also.Beer kills and causes just as many health risks as tabacco.

Reaper2K 9 years, 9 months ago

Rodentgirl16> Egad! Don't give them any ideas. Snack foods are expensive enough as it is.

Gabe Hoffman 9 years, 9 months ago

I say tax all, i'm sure an excuse can be found for any percieved "sin"Food= fattiesold people= being oldSUV's= gas guzzlerscripples= special servicesaccident victims= rescue servicesthe list goes on.

Gabe Hoffman 9 years, 9 months ago

Still missing something here, if no one is paying taxes on anything, save some sales tax, how does our society work? I'd be interested to find out.

samsnewplace 9 years, 9 months ago

ok folks, people need to eat and sometimes the dollar menu at mcdonalds is all some people can afford....we don't need to smoke, drink, do drugs, gamble, etc.......

saoirseglen 9 years, 9 months ago

Why not ban outright the sale and use of tobacco in the state of Kansas? If the desire is to end the use of tobacco and the negative health effects, then create a 100% ban.I see no reason for the state to profit from the use of a product they want to legislate out of existence. Either ban it totally or tax it not at all, especially with all the political hay that is being made about tobacco, tobacco users and health effects.

Reaper2K 9 years, 9 months ago

I don't smoke and I would prefer a smoke-free world. But taxing smokers in the name of "health care" is ridiculous! They claim to be helping those who can't afford health care. Do they not realize that they are taxing the very people they claim to be helping? It's not as if only rich people smoke! If anyone votes in favor of this tax increase (from the governor on down), I hope their constituents "thank" them during the next general election by voting them out of office.

Danielle Brunin 9 years, 9 months ago

If they are going to raise the cost of cigarettes in the name of health, why don't they also raise the cost of candy bars, soda, fast food, and other junk? Then, they can reduce obesity in teenagers help pay for health care for those in need, and maybe start programs for people who would like to lose weight, but don't know where to start. I'm not a smoker, and I hate cigarette smoke, but I certainly see a lot more overweight and obese people than smokers on a daily basis. Both are serious health risks. Why penalize one and not the other?

storm 9 years, 9 months ago

Taxes should be imposed for these three, always and forever: cigarettes, plastic bags, snack foods. (I would say matches and lighter fluid, too, but there aren't that many people causing arson, yet.)

lexi 9 years, 9 months ago

Reaper - try an apple or banana for snack food...

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 9 years, 9 months ago

"why don't they also raise the cost of candy bars, soda, fast food, and other junk?"I agree with this 100% This garbage "food' should be taxed big time! Obesity is increasing and it is putting a strain on health care. If you want to eat like a pig, you should be expected to help offset the health care costs that you are creating.

jaycat 9 years, 9 months ago

Okay fine. Tax the tobacco, but the money is only to be spent on the people who are putting into it. In other words when I'm sick and dieing from all of the smoking I've done in my life, then all the taxes I paid should pay for my health care. Not people who have not contributed to the fund. Find your own fund for your own health care. Most people that I know that have died from lung cancer and the such have had insurance to cover the cost. So stop making it sound like smokers are all poor and out of work and can't get health insurance. Whay not tax the booze, it rots your liver if you have to much of it, not to mention all af the other effects it has on society. And yes why not tax the fat ones, lets say for every pound over weight they are it will cost an extra .01 for each junk food item they purchase. O and lets not for get about the ones changing the laws for us, for every stupid law that you pass we the people get to flog you. Bet you'ld think twice before pushing that button for you buddy back home who wants a special credit just for them.

JuliansWright 9 years, 9 months ago

Great idea, but they should make it more like 5 dollars.

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years, 9 months ago

"Why put the burden on smokers?"Because their habit is driving up health costs. Why should non-smokers get dinged for smokers' health problems?

voltage 9 years, 9 months ago

Target something that more people choose to do, tax fast food and unhealthy foods. Slap a fat tax out there and see how quickly it passes. Smokers have plenty to deal with already, let's make the chubbies pay a bit more. Heart disease kills more people per year than cancer thus they're a bigger strain on insurance.

Bruce Bertsch 9 years, 9 months ago

A board full of wussy girlie-men. Do any of you realize what the NYC/State tax on a pack is? In excess of $4.00. A pack will run you about $8. Guess what? NYC experienced an 11% drop in smoking when it passed its smoking ordinance along with Long Island and the counties to the north of the city. $0.75 additional per pack is too low. Make it high enough to do some good.As for taxing junk food...what you will find is that it is more expensive to eat healthy food than it is to eat junk, the real root issue of obesity. Our neighbors to the east cut off aid to buy fruits and veggies becuase it was too expensive. Guess where the money goes now. Remove all sales tax on food and increase it on tobacco, alcohol and diesel and gas.

Gabe Hoffman 9 years, 9 months ago

invictus: You think no one should pay taxes? I think it's more of people, smokers generally, being outraged that they are singled out over others who have equally harming addictions that are ignored. Instead it's a "sin" and therefore, they are expected to carry the extra weight.

Reaper2K 9 years, 9 months ago

Wouldn't it make more sense to have a .01 sales tax across the board than to outrageously tax a product that only some people use? Why put the burden on smokers? I'm not in favor of income tax or property tax, but I feel that a reasonable sales tax is a good way to ensure that everyone contributes his or her fair share to the local or state economy. Sooner or later, everyone (no matter how rich or poor) has to buy groceries and gasoline. But some people spend a lot more.Let the rich people who have money to spend pay more in taxes than a guy who is buying his weekly groceries.

situveux1 9 years, 9 months ago

yea a tax, that's the answer. it's worked so well in the past.

Matt Schwartz 9 years, 9 months ago

i like taxing ass much as the next guy...more money should be put into prevention

notajayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

This is precisely why healthcare officials make such lousy politicians.- They want to massively increase a public health plan;- They're going to fund it with a source that they flatly admit is supposed to diminish because of its imposition;- To hasten the collapse of the funding source, they want to drastically reduce the places where people can smoke.What you should all be wondering - and asking - is how they're going to pay for this $250 million increase in public insurance when more and more people smoke less and less because of the tax increase and smoking ban?

kansanjayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Common liberals-- this is the most regressive tax idea yet-- lets take more taxes from the lower middle class! These are the people that we are supposed to believe people like Sebelius are standin up for!!!Give us all a break!

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 9 months ago

When will the state start taxing to death alcohol and food (drunks and fat people)?

Centerville 9 years, 9 months ago

Smoking isn't driving up health care costs. The government is driving up health care costs. And since when is wasting more money on the government going to make anyone, literally any one, more healthy? Why have we bought into the nonsense? If the bureaucrats would just admit that they want more money to throw around, why don't they lower taxes on cigarettes to an amount that would make it worthwhile for people in Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma to drive over here to stock up? That way we'd have lots of revenues and could avoid the phony righteousness.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 9 months ago

tanaumaga: "i like taxing ass...."I knew that would be next.

LeslieJeanne 9 years, 9 months ago

People who are poor enough to qualify for state help and handouts with food and clothes for their familes have no business spending scarce money on cigarettes. This is very selfish of the adult in the famiy and harms the children emotionally as well as financially and healthwise. There must be some way to persuade people that once you are a parent you take care of the children first. No one ever died from lack of a cigarette. There has to be some way to get though to people about the benefits of preventive heath care.Obama would love this tax.When he is president, and he will be, things will change.Fist bump!

Godot 9 years, 9 months ago

This concept of using taxes to control individual liberty and behavior is totalitarian. This unelected commission needs to be disbanded.

slang4d 9 years, 9 months ago

"Because their habit is driving up health costs. Why should non-smokers get dinged for smokers' health problems?"There was a recent study that said smoker's life-long health care costs were less than non-smokers. Probably because they don't live as long.Whole foods should be cheaper than processed foods. We can buy eight packets of nutritionless, high-calorie ramen for the same price as ONE piece of fruit! Don't tell me the obesity and type-2 diabetes epidemic in this country don't bog down the system. Much more so than a smoker that who will probably die in less than five years after they are diagnosed with cancer or another lung disease.How is it though that I pay $120 dollars a month for medical insurance I barely use (I'm not alone on that boat) and we're in a crisis? There is a much bigger problem here.

denak 9 years, 9 months ago

I don't smoke so perhaps this is easy for me to say since it isn't going to hurt my pocket book but I would gladly pay a 75 cent increase if I the money would go directly towards funding a program that would give health care to every child under 18 in the state of Kansas.I have a friend who has a son who is Type 1 diabetes and since he was diagnosed two years ago, she has had to jump through hoop after hoop to get him what he needs. Finally this year, after changing jobs three times, she was able to get a job that pays for the majority of supplies he needs.But before that she was shelling out hundreds of dollars a month to get him what he needs.The parents of children with chronic diseases live in terror that they will lose their jobs(or insurance) and they shouldn't have to go through all of that to make sure that their child lives.Dena

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