BOISE, Id – An attempt to raise Idaho’s cigarette tax was snuffed out today in the Idaho Legislature. Despite pleas to save lives and money, lawmakers objected to higher taxes and the effects on local businesses.
Heidi Low of the American Cancer Society led the charge. Speaking before the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, she proposed raising the cigarette tax by 1.25 per pack. Supported by a coalition of 24 other groups, Low said the goal would be to keep kids from smoking.
Heidi Low “You will prevent 12,400 youth from ever becoming addicted tobacco users and 9400 current smokers will quit. This is gonna save Idaho lives and money. 6600 will no longer die a premature death because of long-term tobacco use and in the long-term health care savings in Idaho, is over 400-million dollars.”
Lawmakers debated raising taxes and the health effects of smoking. Here's a sample of how that debate went:
Lenore Barrett“If you don’t want folks to smoke, ban the product, make it illegal, send smokers to jail and pay for their rehab like we do with other addictive drugs.”
Vito Barbieri“I’m pretty convinced this legislation will hurt businesses in my district.”
Cliff Bayer“This does hit a certain sector, blue collar workers, veterans, fixed income folks, with an over 200 percent tax increase that I can’t support.”
Dick Harwood“My mother smoked for 80, 82, 83 years, something like that, she was in pretty well health her whole life. Just because you smoke doesn’t mean you’re gonna be ill. I know the statistics show that different, but not everybody’s that way.”
Those were Republicans Lenore Barrett, Vito Barbieri, Cliff Bayer, and Dick Harwood. They voted to leave Idaho’s cigarette tax alone... keeping it at 57 cents a pack.
Copyright 2012 BSPR