Friday, May 29, 2009

Cigarette Tax Increase Passes, Other Tobacco-Related Budget Updates

Wisconsin will have the 5th-highest cigarette tax in the nation, thanks to a 75-cent tax increase passed early this morning by the Joint Finance Committee. Cigarette taxes in Wisconsin will now total $2.52 per pack. Like the budget itself, the motion that raised taxes on cigarettes passed 12-4 along party lines. The cigarette tax increase, assuming the budget moves through the next budget steps without changes, will take effect September 1.

On a day of gloomy news for tobacco control, the tax increase was one bright spot. The increase should encourage existing smokers to kick their addiction, discourage young people from starting, and, of course, raise much-needed revenue for the state's troubled balance sheet. (For more detail, see item 22 in the general fund omnibus taxes motion).

The committee also passed a "floor," or minimum tax, on moist snuff.


No Tobacco said...

Quitting smoking is the MOST important decision you'll ever make in your life, for you and your loved ones. It is better to start Now, because the longer you stay on it, the more damage it will do to your body.

Michael Siegel said...

My concern about the tax increase is that it seems unfair to balance the state's budget on the backs of smokers, many of whom are lower income and whose children may be hurt by such a proposal. It would be very different if the revenues were to be allocated towards smoking-related programs, as it would be a fair tax if those who shoulder the burden of the tax also stand to benefit from it (for example, if the revenues were allocated specifically for treatment of smoking-related disease, research into better treatments and cure for these diseases, smoking cessation programs, etc.). But to just throw the revenues in the general budget and to use the cigarette tax increase as a way to balance the budget is unwise, in my opinion. Among other things, it makes the state dependent upon continued cigarette smoking. Wisconsin now NEEDS smokers to continue to smoke at high rates in order to maintain a balanced budget. This has completely taken away any incentive for Wisconsin lawmakers to take any serious action that would reduce cigarette smoking. Because such an action would threaten the state's revenues and its fiscal solvency.