Local Politics

Anti-smoking group calls for $1 increase in cigarette tax

Posted November 25, 2008

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— An anti-smoking group said Tuesday that North Carolina could ease its budget problems and improve its overall health by raising the state tax on cigarettes.

North Carolina has the fifth-lowest tobacco tax in the country, at 35 cents a pack, and the North Carolina Alliance for Health called for raising the tax to $1.35 a pack.

"There's room for raising that," said Pam Seamans, executive director of the Alliance for Health.

A $1-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax would generate more than $400 million for the state, she said.The group did not say whether that figure accounted for any decrease in sales because of the tax hike or was based on current sales.

Budget analysts have forecast a state budget deficit of $800 million to $1.6 billion this fiscal year because of declining sales tax and personal and corporate income tax revenue. Some analysts have said the deficit could top $3 billion in the fiscal year that starts next July.

Seamans said raising the tax would produce the additional benefit of encouraging some people to quit smoking.

"The higher you go, the more benefit you see. The more revenue you raise, the more lives you save and the more kids you keep from starting," she said.

The federal government is also considering a tax increase on cigarettes.

George Hoffman, who owns Pipes By George in Raleigh, said the current recession would be the worst time to raise taxes on smokers.

"When is enough enough?" Hoffman said. "There are a lot of people who are having to tighten their belt, and I really think the most sane, sensible thing for government to do is to tighten their belt."

Gov. Mike Easley proposed higher tobacco and alcohol taxes last spring to pay for more education and mental health spending, but lawmakers shot down the idea in an election year.

Seamans said she hopes Governor-elect Beverly Perdue will stick to her previous support for higher cigarette taxes.

"Lt. Gov. Perdue, in her primary race, did suggest and call for an increase in the cigarette tax of 45 cents. So we have high hopes that she'll consider or that she'll be out there promoting this," she said.

Perdue issued a statement Tuesday afternoon in which she backed away from that earlier stance.

"As I consider my options for addressing the state budget in 2009, my first priority is to carefully identify opportunities to cut spending rather than implement new taxes," she said. "I've been down this road before, and I know how to make difficult decisions when it comes to balancing the budget."


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  • alwayslovingu30 Dec 1, 2008

    Lets start by stopping the crooked ploiticians power of giving them selves A raise.I cant give myself A raise.Why R they different.Mary Easleys husband is going out of office she got A 87%pay increase.That was not called for.All these politicians who can give them selves A raise need to be booted.Wral should do A study of how much money is lost an squandered in the state I can tell U it will be big money.Check all state departments.
    irs and the feds will spend 100.000 to get 1.00 it needs to stop some where I dont smoke,I cannot breath around it.But more tax is just wrongU cant ballance the budget by taxing more because U spend what U dont have.where is the money for the bridge to knowwhere.palin got it.its gone now buddy.easleys unwaranted trips stole money from the tax payers when will he repay it.He Never will politics.can I get A 87%pay increase all we get R nickles an dimes

  • TheAdmiral Nov 26, 2008

    "The state of NC is like a drug dealer...get people hooked on something (nicotine) they can not do without and then charge more money for it. Shame on NC."

    Oh please - I guess that you also think that the pet store is inhumane to animals because they give them baths.

    We call that the lack of intelligence making unlike things similar.

  • TheAdmiral Nov 26, 2008

    The answer is no.

    Not because I am not a smoker. But because that is abuse of the tax system that caused the boston tea party.

    If you want to get people to stop smoking, then you are going to have to do it some other way.

    Abuse of the tax system leads to revolts.

  • whatusay Nov 26, 2008

    The state of NC is like a drug dealer...get people hooked on something (nicotine) they can not do without and then charge more money for it. Shame on NC.

  • OrdinaryCitizen Nov 26, 2008

    I'm a smoker and would rather them sell cigarette's by the single. I'd pay $1 for a smoke at a bar. That would definitely decrease my smoking.

  • sandhillsk9 Nov 26, 2008

    Beer and Boose kills more Humans then any cigarette.
    lets tripple the Tax there.
    Beer and Boose is still seen on TV .. but no Malloro Man anymore
    whats wrong with this Picture

  • patriotsrevenge Nov 26, 2008

    "I think that sums it up. You want smokers to suffer simply because smoking irritates you. People make a conscientious decision to smoke, and if their smoke isn't being sucked into your lungs, you have NO say over the issue whatsoever. --braddyg

    That's just my point, their smoke IS being sucked into my lungs. Next time someone smokes in my presence, I'm going to pass gas next to them.

  • NCTeacher Nov 26, 2008

    I consider myself smart so I'll answer as to why I started smoking. I smoked in high school because everyone else did it. And I have continued to this day because once I started it, I found that I enjoyed it.

    Now, whether that answer is "smart" enough for you makes no difference. It was my choice to make, I made it and no one has the right to judge me for it.

    I think it is disgusting to hear someone smack their food in a restaraunt. Smacking should be taxed heavily and eventually banned just because it bothers me.

  • dugmeister Nov 26, 2008

    "People make a conscientious decision to smoke"

    albeit a 'really, really, really, really DUMB' decision.

  • Raggedy Nov 26, 2008

    The right answer to this whole article should be tell those stupid politicians we elected to stop spending so much money. Then there would be no need to tax anything. That is the final answer.