Ga. advocates push $1 cigarette tax hike

Friday, March 4, 2011 5:38 AM
Last updated 7:06 AM
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ATLANTA - A mix of organizations on Thursday announced efforts to get lawmakers to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1 as a way to increase state revenues and discourage teens from smoking.

Georgia lawmakers may raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1.  Augusta Chronicle file photo
Augusta Chronicle file photo
Georgia lawmakers may raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1.

This is the fourth year groups like the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association have pushed for the tax hike. This year, they're getting help from the retiree organization AARP and the Georgia Association of Educators who are seeking funds to prevent cuts to programs their members depend on.

The proposed increase would net $350 million yearly after accounting for a resulting decline in cigarette sales. That sales drop is the main point for no-smoking supporters who estimate that teen smoking will drop 16 percent because of the price increase.

Although the legislative session is half over, the advocates feel their momentum will grow as other organizations face the likelihood that they're not going to avoid budget cuts any other way, according to Lee Hughes, a lobbyist for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

"As we get down to crunch time, there are going to be more and more causes looking for ways to pay for their services," he said.

In the past three years, the tax supporters rallied around a bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah. This year, he didn't introduce his bill, so the groups are focusing on a sweeping tax-reform legislative package stemming from recommendations of a council of economists and business executives.

The tax reform council called for boosting the tax 31 cents to match the average of surrounding states. The advocates see that as an opening to persuade lawmakers to go further.

They note that Florida raised its tax by $1 in 2009. No Florida legislators were defeated as a result, they said, and Georgia's tobacco revenue didn't rise as a result of Floridians driving to the Peach State for cheaper smokes. That could mean that Georgia smokers won't abandon stores in cities like Savannah and Augusta for South Carolina.

When Georgia legislators raised this state's cigarette tax 25 cents in 2003, voters didn't punish any of them, according to June Deen of the Lung Association.

Gov. Nathan Deal has said he opposes any tax increases and will only go along with the tax-reform package because it is revenue neutral.

And the law creating the tax-reform council requires the General Assembly to vote on all of the recommendations as presented, without amendment.

"It's still early in the session, and we think it's got a pretty good chance to pass," said Sarah Balog, lobbyist for the American Heart Association.

Still, the advocates remain unfazed, arguing that the last tobacco-tax increase took 10 years of lobbying.

"We're going to keep talking about (it)," Deen said. "We're not going away."

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DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 03/04/11 - 07:23 am
0
0
Wait a minute. The cigarette

Wait a minute. The cigarette taxes are already sky high. And before ANY tax is raised they had better cut the spending FIRST! You can not keep raising taxes on vices just because their voices are not loud and organized. The lobbyists know that raising taxes on cigarettes is an easy argument. But if they were to put the same effort behind cutting spending, wouldn't the net effect be the same? Duh.

seabeau
33
Points
seabeau 03/04/11 - 08:17 am
0
0
Raise taxes on alcohol also.

Raise taxes on alcohol also.

floridasun
310
Points
floridasun 03/04/11 - 08:31 am
0
0
I have no problem raising

I have no problem raising taxes on cigarettes. Go for it

clbargeron
0
Points
clbargeron 03/04/11 - 08:36 am
0
0
All raising the tax will do

All raising the tax will do is increase the amount of bums that can't afford their own cigs and make hard working people that do have a vice to spend more on their habit and less on other things.this state needs reform in many other ways like stop giving food stamps to drug dealers and dead beats.punishing people for a legal addiction is just damn wrong.sure its unhealthy and makes people sick but having to smoke in freezing rain does to and no one worries about that.smokers need a voice that can be heard. Hey government stop the sanctioned persecution just because we smoke

dichotomy
32973
Points
dichotomy 03/04/11 - 08:48 am
0
0
Beer is bad for you too. How

Beer is bad for you too. How about $1 a beer tax. That would cut down on the redneck drunks on the road. White bread makes you fat and is bad for you....$1 a loaf tax. Electronic devices are killing our landfills and spreading lead and PCBs.......$50 per device tax. How about women's makeup? It causes allergy attacks to some people who are unwillingly exposed, is not healthy for the users skin, and allows women to violate the Truth In Advertising Act......$10 per item makeup tax. Tanning beds cause skin cancer. How about a $25 per session tax on tanning beds. When they realize that taxing smokers never brings in the amount of revenue they project, they will be back to tax YOUR vice one of these days. The tax code was never intended as a punishment tool and we need to stop using it that way. If you support using taxes to punish a specific group of which you are not a member, I suggest it's time for you to do a little self flagellation.

55 F-100
1
Points
55 F-100 03/04/11 - 09:12 am
0
0
How about a $50.00 license

How about a $50.00 license tag fee for bicycles, golf carts, utility vehicles (exp. John Deere GATORS) utilized on public roadways?

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 03/04/11 - 09:17 am
0
0
Right on Dichotomy.

Right on Dichotomy.

Indigo
4
Points
Indigo 03/04/11 - 09:24 am
0
0
Im not a smoker and think its

Im not a smoker and think its a bad bad habit, but I dont think the legislature is being fair. Times are tough and rather than cut waste, they'd rather do the easy thing and tax tax tax.

How about a $100,000 tax on anyone convicted of DUI?

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 03/04/11 - 09:27 am
0
0
I despise everything about

I despise everything about smoking and smokers behaviors (i.e. throwing your nasty butts all over the place) however, I say NO NEW TAXES!

This is no worse than taxing McDonalds or Burger King extra or taxing the wealthy just because they've been successful. It is targeting a segment of our society. Government trying to "force" behavior. This reeks of big brother.

Mk Ultra
0
Points
Mk Ultra 03/04/11 - 09:47 am
0
0
Chillen and I agree...wow.

Chillen and I agree...wow.

onlysane1left
216
Points
onlysane1left 03/04/11 - 09:58 am
0
0
Chillen and I agree...wow. I

Chillen and I agree...wow.

I know, I agree, too, and it's scary..... (just kidding) This tax is very poor attempt to make smokers pay up for there addiction, yet, they won't pass a law to make meth dealers clean up their toxic sites. The government is say "Let's make people stop one addiction, but make the taxpayers pay for another's mishandling." Really, not smart...

Riverman1
83998
Points
Riverman1 03/04/11 - 10:18 am
0
0
Chillen, count me in on that,

Chillen, count me in on that, too. I despise it, but you can't unfairly tax things others do even if they are in the minority.

Mk Ultra
0
Points
Mk Ultra 03/04/11 - 10:56 am
0
0
I would possibly support it

I would possibly support it if they taxed fast food and alcohol as well but we all know that will never happen...

happychimer
17611
Points
happychimer 03/04/11 - 10:56 am
0
0
I am all for a high tax on

I am all for a high tax on cigarettes. When you watch a loved one slowing die because of cigarettes, you would hate them too. Drunk drivers should have their drivers license revoked permanently for the 1st offense.

gargoyle
17108
Points
gargoyle 03/04/11 - 11:09 am
0
0
Here's an idea: Raising the

Here's an idea:
Raising the tax doesn't work- has been proven to not work- and the monies raised do not go where the government says they will. And anytime a teenager is told no, he works harder to get the taboo item.

SO don't raise the tax, lower it some. Advertise that fact that Georgia has cheap cigs and tobacco products in Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, and the northern states where the tax rate is ridiculous. Georgia will collect less tax per product, but will sell more and see an increase in tax revenue.

This is a sound economic idea, just look at Walmart's success.

sugarbutton
902
Points
sugarbutton 03/04/11 - 11:47 am
0
0
Well, next thing you

Well, next thing you know...they'll be measuring our output when we go to the bathroom That's gonna be heck fire doodle on us old ladies that have to take water pills. TAXTAXTAX while the government SPENDSSPENDSSPENDS!!!

ddelaigle
0
Points
ddelaigle 03/04/11 - 11:56 am
0
0
More theft....one of the

More theft....one of the primary things that are stolen from convenience stores is cartons of cigarettes, along with cash.

Do you think with the economy a $1.00 additional tax will help this situation????

NOT

socks99
250
Points
socks99 03/04/11 - 02:31 pm
0
0
No one should count on even a

No one should count on even a basic understanding of economics or the US Constitution when listening to these self-interested advocacy groups.

Let's see, they want to fund a service with revenue from a product that enhances the need for that service but that will no longer be sold if the taxes are raised high enough! Perfect, no doubt lung illnesses will end on the very day the last pack of cigarettes is purchased!

And don't look to these nuts to tell the truth or to recognize that tobacco is a legal product. Instead, they've conned various governments into restricting its use, geographically, in an ongoing attempt to ban its use simply by adding all the banned areas together until the smokers are sufficiently harassed and chased away that well ... they just are forced by the control freaks to submit to their moral authority! This in a nation founded by folks desiring the freedom to be LEFT ALONE by over-bearing governments and most definitely the moral prude police!

So sure, pay for something you like with something you want to make illegal! The real goal of anti-smoking advocates is the acceptance of their moral superiority. They'd reform America as something of a zoo for animals with them, of course, as the zoo keepers.

Let them take their tax proposals and put them where the sun doesn't shine!

Sweet son
10406
Points
Sweet son 03/04/11 - 02:07 pm
0
0
Way to go socks, dichotomy

Way to go socks, dichotomy and others who agree that it isn't just about cigarettes. Reduced spending is the only way for the government to resolve budget woes. The government just can't continue to balance poor budget practices on the taxpayer's backs. We all know that immediate reduction in force of ALL government agencies would not result in any reduction of services. Set asides and entitlements also need to be closely monitored and given to those who truly need and deserve them. It won't be long before the government will levy a tax on your butt just because they can. We have to stop these legislated tax increases by not putting the same people in office who just maintain the long running tax and spend philosophy. I like my butt but I don't want it to be taxed like cigarettes, etc.

kmb413
533
Points
kmb413 03/04/11 - 02:52 pm
0
0
Addiction is just that. I

Addiction is just that. I quit smoking a week ago. I remember the choice of $4.00 for gas or spend on cigarettes. Guess what? I got cigarettes. I even ran out of gas on the way home from work the day before payday. I was younger then, didn't budget too well.
Now I will have approximately $2700 more money this year and I am going to Disney with the kids.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 03/04/11 - 03:13 pm
0
0
Don't smoke, if you do wish

Don't smoke, if you do wish the best for you but raising taxes does no good with runaway expenses.

hereinaugusta
0
Points
hereinaugusta 03/04/11 - 07:04 pm
0
0
Get your partying money

Get your partying money somewhere else.

hereinaugusta
0
Points
hereinaugusta 03/04/11 - 07:08 pm
0
0
sugarbutton: They already do!

sugarbutton: They already do! my water bill was $25 and my sewage out put was $37.60

hereinaugusta
0
Points
hereinaugusta 03/04/11 - 07:21 pm
0
0
happychimer:I have, but give

happychimer:I have, but give some though! Our United States Government is killing way many more people than cigarettes will ever kill. Besides they have never linked cancer or COPD to cigarettes never once. There have been more people killed in an elevators than killed by cigarettes. If they kill someone it would be because of the poison our Governments ads to the tobbaco. No offence intended.I know how it is to loose someone been through that many many times.

George
0
Points
George 03/04/11 - 09:27 pm
0
0
hereinaugusta: The IARC,

hereinaugusta: The IARC, which is a division of the World Health Organization, has linked cancer, copd, emphysema and hundreds of more diseases with cigarettes. So has the National Cancer Institute here in the USA, the National Lung Association,the FDA, The surgeon general, the American Cancer society etc etc.
Read this bit if you don't believe me:
http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/TobaccoCancer/CigaretteSmoking...

I'm divided on the case of the sin tax. It does work in pulling in revenue for the government -and quickly- but is it ethical? I'm glad I finally was able to quit the habit last year and have been smoke free since March 14th, 2010. I must say though, that last tax on cigarettes that was pushed through last year was the final straw in making me want to quit after being a smoker for 35 years. So maybe there's something to think about in that aspect.

happychimer
17611
Points
happychimer 03/04/11 - 10:36 pm
0
0
I can not handle cigarette

I can not handle cigarette smoke. I feel like I am smothering if I get near anyone who is smoking. I don't let anyone smoke in my car nor in my house.

bclicious
718
Points
bclicious 03/04/11 - 11:39 pm
0
0
I don't have a problem

I don't have a problem raising cigarette taxes, but as a alcohol consumer; I believe that there should be a $1 increase on the sell of liquor, wine, and beer as well.

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