Utah - proposal to increase cigarette tax falters..

February 6, 2009 - A slimmed-down bid to raise Utah's tobacco tax was beaten back in a Senate committee Thursday, February 5, 2009 as opponents cited fears of forcing smokers out of state to buy cigarettes and concerns about damaging the economy. Christensen said the governor supported the $1.30-per-pack rate. Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, initially had proposed raising the 69.5-cent-a-pack cigarette tax to $2, but ran into resistance and lowered the boost to $1.30, the national average for non-tobacco-producing states. Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. had proposed a $3-per-pack tax, but has backed away from that figure. A proposal to send Christensen's bill to the Senate floor for debate was defeated in a committee Thursday on a 4-to-3 vote.

A bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, and identical to Christensen's original proposal of a $2-per-pack tax, has yet to come up for debate in the House. Ray has expressed confidence that there will be a cigarette-tax increase this year, but is not sure how much it will be and where the money will be spent.

Reference: Utah Senate panel snuffs out tobacco-tax hike by Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2/6/2009; Proposal to increase Utah cigarette tax falters, ksl.com - asssociated press, 2/5/2009.

Other Utah news briefs: Utah - philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., supports big boost in tobacco tax..; 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..