Utah - increase tobacco excise tax by $1.00 - we doubt it will happen..

February 14, 2010 - That's the message for some Utahns in two separate pieces of legislation from Northern Utah lawmakers that passed out of the same committee on Friday, February 12th.

Earlier in the hearing, an anti-smoking bill from Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, gained support of the committee. The bill would add a dollar to the tobacco excise tax, which currently is 70 cents. The arguments were passionate as Ray and others talked about the effects of the increased tax. Ray, who had smokers in his family, said the added state revenue at $45 million a year is not the point of his proposal.

Ray says it's not the amount of money but promoting cessation as cigarettes become cost-prohibitive. "That's the whole idea for me, that smoking goes away," he said.

But others said the higher tax was wrong for various reasons, including the idea it is targeted at many people who can least afford it. "This tax is bad tax policy," said Dave Davis, of the Utah Retail Merchants Association.

Several tobacco tax increases are being debated at the state house this session, but Ray's bill would make the Utah cigarette tax the highest among surrounding states.

The other bill would place alcohol warnings for pregnant woman at all state liquor stores. The warnings would be placed in a prominent place in the stores.

Both bills now go to the floor for full debate and possible vote..

This is the same state that failed to pass a bill that would ban smoking in cars with children under age 5 and slap offenders with a $45 fine. So if the child is over 5 years old it's okay for the adult to smoke??

Reference: New bills target alcohol, tobacco by Dan Weist, Standard-Examiner Davis Bureau, 2/12/2010.

Other Utah news briefs:
Proposal to increase Utah cigarette tax falters..;
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..