Utah - philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., supports big boost in tobacco tax..

January 24, 2009 - The fast-growing group of big names endorsing a big increase in the state tax on tobacco products includes Jon Huntsman Sr., the philanthropist and businessman. Huntsman has donated more than $350 million of his wealth to underwrite research, treatment and prevention of cancers, said Friday, 1/23/2009 the tax is another tool in the fight against what he called "this horrifying disease."

The legislation adds $1.30 to the 70-cent state tax on a pack of cigarettes. It also proposes increasing by 55 percent of the manufacturer's price for cigars, moist and dry snuff and loose-cut pipe and roll-your-own tobacco.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, said he considers the tax a win-win for both state coffers and the "coughers" he hopes to encourage to quit smoking because it has become too expensive. "As someone who is overseeing immediate pending cuts in health and human services programs of $105 million, about $52 million of the revenue generated by this bill would go a long way to make up for those cuts we're being asked to make," Christensen said

He said though smokers say the state is trying to balance its budget on their backs, "the way I see it, thousands of smokers covered by Medicaid have been using state funds to help pay the medical bills caused by them getting sick from smoking. This is just shifting the balance back a bit."

Huntsman Sr. supports big boost in tobacco tax
by James Thalman, Deseret News, 1/24/2009.

Other Utah news briefs: Utah Bars Go Smokefree January 1, 2009..; Utah moves from a tax based on the percentage of sales price to one based on the weight - independent of price of smokeless tobacco product..