Better Health Campaign Pushing For An Even Higher Cigarette Tax
What does smoking cigarettes and Louisiana's budget crisis have in common? If you ask Governor John Bel Edwards part of the solution to the budget issue is to have more and more of a smokers money drift directly to the state's coffers.
Governor Edwards has proposed a tax increase of 22 cents on every pack of cigarettes purchased in the state. He says the money will go to help offset a budget deficit the state is facing.
A health campaign called Invest in a Healthy Louisiana thinks the Governor is on the right track. Maybe not so much with the budget issue but the raising of taxes on cigarettes issue. In fact, the group believes that a 22 cent increase is not enough. If they have their way smokers will be paying an extra $1.25 per pack.
Our concerns are primarily about health outcomes. Not so much about filling budget gaps. It just so happens that the state needs money.
Randy Hayden a consultant for the Invest in a Healthy Louisiana made those comments in a story published by the Louisiana Radio Network.
Hayden went on to suggest that despite a recent increase in the cigarette tax Louisiana still has some of the lowest tax rates on tobacco in the southern United States. His group says that when the tax on cigarettes reaches one dollar or more that's when it starts to impact health.
Our goal is not to fill a budget hole with this money and many people in the legislature are looking at it just as a way to help bridge that gap. But our goal is to significantly improve health outcome.
The debate over cigarette taxes will continue in the legislature. The problem with that debate is just as Hayden described. Some legislators are looking at this issue as a revenue generating idea. Others are looking at an increase in cigarette taxes as a way to better the health of our citizens. Meanwhile smokers are just kind of sick and tired of the legislature getting into their business again.