Florida's Governor signs tobacco tax increase into law..

May 28, 2009 - TALLAHASSEE - Governor Charlie Crist signed into law a $1-per-pack cigarette tax hike Wednesday - the biggest of its kind in Florida history -- saying he hopes to kill the habit that results in thousands of deaths every year.

"I view it more as a health issue than a tax issue," said Crist, a Republican who broke with a career-long opposition to tax increases. " Ronald Reagan used to say if you want to kill something, tax it. It wouldn't be bad if we killed smoking. It would save a lot of lives."

As of July 1, 2009 Florida's new cigarette tax is $1.34 per pack. An equivalent increase applies to smokeless and pipe tobacco, but not cigars. The extra $1 tax is expected to generate more than $900 million a year, to be used to offset Medicaid costs and fund cancer research.

With the increase, Florida's cigarette tax goes from sixth-lowest in the nation to slightly above the national average of $1.23 a pack. Still, Florida's Deep South neighbors have some of the lowest levies in the nation. Among them: Georgia (37 cents), Alabama (42 cents) and South Carolina (7 cents).

Higher cigarette taxes mean teenagers will never pick up the habit, and addicted adults might quit, said Brenda Olsen, an American Lung Association lobbyist. Though Florida's tax has remained flat for two decades, smoking rates have steadily declined. About 19 percent of adults, or less than 2 million Floridians over 18, smoke.

Still, smoking is linked to 28,600 deaths a year in Florida and requires $6 billion to treat tobacco-related illnesses, state analysts say.

David Sutton, a spokesperson for Altria Group Inc., the parent company of Philip Morris, told the newspaper that Florida's tax hike would prompt many consumers to seek tax-free ways to buy their smokes, whether on an Indian reservation or the Internet. "Obviously, it's a big hit to our consumers and to retailers as well," he said. "You've got a very difficult economy out there." We have to make sure the PACT legislation that just passed in the House, flys through the Senate and becomes law. This will prevent the mailing of all tobacco products by the US Postal Service. Read More: U.S - PACT legislation passed by House...

Reference: Crist signs cigarette-tax hike, calls it a 'health issue', Josh Hafenbrack | Tallahassee Bureau, Orlando Sentinel, 5/27/2009; A View to a Kill Florida's Crist signs tobacco "execution order"; other states mulling tax increases, Convenience Store / Petroleum (CSP) Daily News, 5/28/2009.

Archive: Florida tobacco tax increase 2009: Florida Governor Charlie Crist stated he will allow a $1-a-pack tax to become law..; Florida legislature pass budget with tobacco tax hike..; http://snus-news.blogspot.com/2009/04/april-26-2009.html; Florida - House may accept Senate's $1-per-pack increase in a cigarette tax..; Florida senate votes 39-0 to raise tobacco tax..; Florida cigar makers fuming over possible tax increase..; Florida - besides tobacco tax increase Senate wants to restrict tax-free sales..; Florida Senate panel backs tobacco tax hike..; Florida tobacco tax hike gets 1st critical vote today.., Tobacco Free Florida Week - 2/27/2009 - 3/7/2009.., Florida's $2.3 billion deficit - increase tax on cigarettes???; States Need Quick Influx of Revenue – Think Tobacco Tax..; Times are Tough Save Money Quit Smoking...



November 8, 2009 at 8:33 AM

Mister Crist, You lost my vote in the future and I bet others as well. Hope to vote you out!