Louisiana - increase in tobacco tax probably doomed..

April 29, 2009 - A proposal for a $1-per-pack cigarette tax increase was snuffed out by the House Ways & Means Committee in an 11-7 vote Tuesday, April 28th signaling probable doom for any proposals to generate major new sources of tax revenue during the current lawmaking session.

Louisiana has a smoking ban in force:
As of January 1, 2007 the "Louisiana Smokefree Air Act," took effect prohibiting smoking in most businesses around Louisiana, leaving people to do as they'd like in their homes and cars (unless they're using their homes as day care facilities). Also - Louisiana has a smoking ban in force when children (kids) 12 and younger are in the car (automobile).

House Bill 75 by Rep. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, was projected to raise nearly $200 million annually in state revenue while reducing consumption of the cancer-causing products. It encountered opposition in Gov. Bobby Jindal's stance against new taxes and from panel members for various reasons.

Rep. Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur, said he voted against the bill because it could potentially reduce retail sales in his southwest Louisiana district, which hosts many visitors from Texas driving in for the casinos and general travel. The state cigarette tax in Texas is $1.41 per pack, compared with Louisiana's current rate of 36 cents. Another argument made against the tobacco bill was the recent increase in the federal cigarette tax from 39 cents to just under $1.01 per pack, which took effect April 1.

The proposal had the support of many doctors and health-care advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Louisiana.

In 2008 Louisiana has a state health ranking of 50; it was 49th in 2007.

Reference: Tobacco tax rejected by House panel by Robert Travis Scottt, nola.com, 4/28/2009; Tobacco Tax Increase:
Raise the Tax or Bear the Burden
, Louisiana Budget Project, 4/27/2009.

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