A coalition of 25 organizations, from the American Lung Association in Idaho to the Idaho Association of Counties, is backing a $1.25 per pack increase in Idaho's cigarette tax, Heidi Low, coalition spokeswoman, told the Legislature's Health Care Task Force today. “We don't yet have legislation, we're still hammering out a couple of the details,” Low told lawmakers. Among those: Backers are working to make sure the bill sends the proceeds from the tax hike not to the state's general fund, but specifically to smoking-related health costs and smoking cessation efforts, she said.
Idaho's current cigarette tax of 57 cents a pack, now lower than just eight other states, would rise to $1.82 under the proposal; the national average is $1.46. Washington's is currently $3.025; Oregon's is $1.18; Nevada's is 80 cents; Utah's is $1.70; Wyoming's is 60 cents; and Montana's is $1.70. Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, told Low, “This puts my small business owners that are close to the border with Montana at a disadvantage, and I'm going to be hearing from them if this is the bill that goes forward.”
Low said “conservative” estimates show the increase would bring in $51.1 million a year and decrease youth smoking by 20 percent.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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