Local Politics

Higher National Cigarette Tax Could Can State Increases

Posted August 1, 2007

— An effort by Congress to dramatically raise cigarette taxes nationwide could snuff out support for future tax increases on cigarettes in the General Assembly, according to lawmakers.

A proposal in the U.S. Senate would tack an extra 61 cents onto the federal excise tax on cigarettes. The additional revenue would fund an expansion of the state Children's Health Insurance Program, which insures millions of children whose low-income families don't qualify for Medicaid.

State lawmakers raised the cigarette tax from 5 cents to 30 cents a pack in September 2005, and another nickel was tacked onto the tax a year ago. Still, the state tax ranks 45th in the U.S., where the average cigarette tax is $1.07 per pack.

State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, has backed cigarette tax increases in the legislature before, but she said a major national tax increase would dampen support among lawmakers for another state increase.

"I think it is unlikely if Congress does what they are threatening to do," Kinnaird said. "We could kill the goose that laid the golden egg. I mean, if we overtax to the point where people aren't smoking -- now that's an irony isn't it?"

State Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson, said higher taxes could have an adverse economic impact in a state that still grows plenty of tobacco and manufactures countless cigarettes.

A recent study by the North Carolina Division of Public Health and the North Carolina Department of Revenue showed cigarette sales statewide dropped by 18.5 percent in the year after the tax was raised. But the revenue raised by the tax increased.

"We're certainly sensitive to the fact that what we're doing has an impact on the jobs around the state that are still involved in tobacco growing or tobacco manufacturing," said Holliman, the House majority leader.

But Holliman, a former smoker, said paying for rising health care costs would be a primary reason lawmakers could look to raise the tax again.

"We are all concerned that the health aspects of cigarettes are certainly one that we're having to pay the tab on," he said.


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  • richard2 Aug 3, 2007

    Does the NC law makers want you to smoke because they would collect less taxes if you don't? Can't smoking kill you? Do they know smoking is bad for you? Can they explain where they stand?

  • EagleGirl Aug 2, 2007

    So they are going to take the extra tax and pay for healthcare for children, that's good. They will need it after being exposed to that disgusting secondhand smoke.

    Anything for the kids......I support.

  • DandyJenn Aug 2, 2007

    No native, it's not just the 'anti-smoker' posts that are getting deleted. My post was also deleted, although it contained less offensive material than most of the other posts here.

    I still don't understand why WRAL put this stupid message board up if they're going to run around and delete peoples' opinions left and right. It is ridiculous.

  • Local_NC_Native Aug 2, 2007

    FYI, looks like we're not supposed to post comments casting smokers in a negative light or it will be censored... Doesn't anyone watch South Park?
    "Either it's okay to make fun of everything or it's not okay to make fun of anything."

  • HighRiskCO Aug 2, 2007

    (continued) How you eat, how active you are, and other things affect how your body uses calories and whether you gain weight. Extreme obesity plagues more than a million teens and young adults, experts estimate. These youths tend to be at least 100 pounds or 100 percent above their ideal body weight.

    The article really isn’t about smoking or second hand smoke nor is it about the health of adults. It is about creating a tax base to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program. I believe more money is spent on fast food in this nation then on cigarettes. So if you want to fund this program use tax dollars, why not start with the things that are creating the poor health in children?

  • HighRiskCO Aug 2, 2007

    amvaugha-“Oh please an obesity tax on fast food? That's just ridiculous!”

    Apparently you didn’t read the article closely enough! What is this money going to be used for? “The additional revenue would fund an expansion of the state Children's Health Insurance Program, which insures millions of children whose low-income families don't qualify for Medicaid.”

    Therefore, if the money were to come from a base, which is causing unhealthy conditions to children to begin with (such as fast food, junk food, etc.), then this would make more sense. If you think obesity is not a huge problem, affecting the health of these children and costing millions of dollars, then you have not been keeping up on national health issues. Being obese means having so much body fat that your health is in danger. Having too much body fat can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, sleep apnea, and stroke. When you take in more calories than you burn off, you gain weight. Ho

  • moglinferno Aug 2, 2007

    They're singling us out when there are more important dangers at hand. Like I mentioned, how many articles have we read in the past 2 months that involved dui/dwi & half the time someone getting killed. I drink too, so I wouldn't be ecstatic about it, but I would rather pay more tax on something that was truly harmful to others & not just myself.

  • Nancy Aug 2, 2007

    This is great! Tax only those 'habits' or lifestyles you don't like! That outta work out great don't you think?

    I thought less government was better? Tsk, tsk, apparently ONLY if it's less government on certain choices made by certain groups.

    How silly.

  • yellowhorses Aug 2, 2007

    moglinferno - right on. They started with the smokers and we have been a pretty passive group. If everyone thinks it's going to stop there, they have blinders on. The next group could be the obese, or drinkers, or vegans, or a certain religion, or etc. In the haste to point the finger at smokers, others may find that they have now enabled a force that could be pointing the finger back at themselves.

  • pmw Aug 2, 2007

    Nowadays you hear so much about smoking, how you should quit, etc...well, as someone said earlier, that person is only hurting themselves when they smoke (primarily). But what about alcohol - that is a huge evil too. At least with a cigarette I'm not going to drive and kill someone because I had one too many smokes.....