Idaho House Tax Chairman Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, said he supports a big hike in the state’s cigarette tax in the coming year, and may co-sponsor the legislation. “I do support it,” he said. “They wanted to bring a bill to raise cigarette taxes last year and I wouldn’t let them, told them no, that last year was all about reducing the base budget, because we had to do that,” Lake told Eye on Boise today. “So when they approached me this year, I said yes, we’d hear the bill.” Lake said he’s not sure about a health coalition’s proposal for a $1.50 per pack increase, however. “I’m not sure that that amount will fly. But I think that we will have a bill that will increase cigarette taxes, yes. Whether it’s a dollar and half or a dollar or some other figure I don’t know.”
Lake said he agrees with a new poll that shows Idahoans strongly backing the move. “I think people do support it,” he said. But he said he’s reluctant to rely on a cigarette tax increase as a “revenue enhancer.” Instead, he said it’s warranted on public health grounds. “I’ve seen the figures on what they think the reduction in teenage smoking would be, and I think that alone makes the project worthwhile,” Lake said.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210
Main switchboard: (509) 459-5000 • (800) 338-8801
Newsroom: (509) 459-5400 • (800) 789-0029
Customer service: (800) 338-8801