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KS House considers proposal to triple cigarette tax

A bill to raise the cigarette tax from $.79 to $2.29 per pack.

A bill to raise the cigarette tax from $.79 to $2.29 per pack. Click here to read more

Phil Cauthon
KHI News Service

TOPEKA — A bill that would triple the tax on cigarettes was introduced this week in the House Health and Human Services Committee.

House Bill 2672 would raise the tax from $.79 to $2.29 per pack. It would also increase the tax on other tobacco products from 10 percent to 78 percent.

Rep. Don Hill, an Emporia Republican who introduced the bill, said there were several compelling reasons for raising tobacco taxes.

“Increasing the cost of a commodity logically leads to reduced use and the consequent health benefits,” Hill said. “There’s also the reality that Kansas is well below the national average in terms of our tax rate on tobacco products. And then couple that with the fact that we’re broke.”

“The fact that we’re broke creates a plausible scenario toward the path of there being interest in the bill at some point in time,” he said. “But I have low expectation that the bill will do anything over the near term.”

Kansas’ cigarette tax is among the lowest in the U.S. The national average is $1.46 per pack.

If the cigarette tax were raised by $1.50, it would add over $100 million to annual state revenue while reducing smoking and the financial impact on the health system caused by sick smokers, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Kansas has not raised its cigarette tax since 2002, and has not raised the tax on other tobacco products since the 1970s.

In 2010, then-Gov. Mark Parkinson supported raising the cigarette tax by 55 cents to $1.34 per pack, which was then the national average. But the Legislature left that tax alone while raising the general sales tax.

Last year, a Senate committee held a hearing on a different tobacco tax increase proposal, but did not vote on the bill.

Linda DeCoursey, executive director of the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition, said a $1.50 increase in the cigarette tax would prevent 33,500 Kansas kids from becoming smokers and 27,800 adults would quit.

“When it comes to balancing budgets, voters prefer raising tobacco taxes to other tax increases or cutting crucial programs such as education,” DeCoursey said. “How many reasons do we need to raise the tobacco tax? Saving lives, helping to state’s budget deficit…it is a definite win-win-win for Kansas.”

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  • Chief59

    Raises money, saves lives, and lowers hospital costs. That’s a tax I could get behind.

    • passin_threw

      I’ve yet to see a tax u aren’t behind.

      • Chief59

        I’m fairly certain this is the first one I’ve ever endorsed.

        • passin_threw

          So all your propositions to give more money and Medicaid are funded by fairy dust?

          • Chief59

            That money for Medicaid that Kansas is turning away will be spent. It’s coming out of our pockets one way or another. So why not use it to provide healthcare for the poor? Just because Kansas turned it down, it doesn’t mean it’s going back in our pockets.

          • passin_threw

            So you’re gonna tell us that it wouldn’t cost any extra if we took it? You really do live in a fantasyland.

        • yup

          You are for any government spending that is possible which makes you for any tax possible. Stop trying to be Oblunder, liar. Your post are all over this site promoting spending and taxing.

      • chief59

        Im always against government except when it is trying to do something!

  • yup

    The entire promise for their argument for a new tax has already been proven incorrect. These simple logic errors are the kinds that have been tripping up “progressives” for decades. It is so funny watching them try to correct their own problems while the same problems worse and creating many others. “Progressives” are modern day Don Quixotes; fighting imaginary battles against imaginary and inflated (through a constant delusional state) foes while actually causing harm to themselves.

    • Chief59

      So trickle down or supply side economics have been effective? By the way, the above Bill was introduced by a Kansas REPUBLICAN. That’s not exactly a demographic known for being progressive, or even moderate.

      • yup

        You are so dumb, because you think this actual equates “trickle up” economics. I am not sure how taxing smokes, mostly used by the poor, to give to rich government contractors is “trickle down” economics. But please, Chief59, explain. It is so obvious that you are an expert in economics and any other subject that is posted on “hayspost.”

        But please, explain this theory of yours to us peons

        • Chief59

          You were harping on what you deem progressive policies, so I asked how certain conservative policies have worked. I never even implied this tax would be anywhere close to trickle down or supply side. Reading comprehension is not that difficult.

          • yup

            “Progressive” policies have pretty much been followed since 1914, but what would you know about history.