Washington State - increase in tax on all tobacco products..

April 13, 2010 - Working to close a $2.8 billion budge deficit in the final days of a special session, the state Senate on Monday approved big increases in the tax on cigarettes and tobacco. House Bill 2493 passed 28-17. Beginning next month - May 2010, the tax on packs of 20 cigarettes will go up a buck - from $2.025 to $3.025.

As of July 2010, the tax on other tobacco products will go from 75 percent of the taxable sales price to 95 percent.
There are exceptions for cigars. The levy on big cigars is not to exceed .65 cent per smoke. The state Legislature is adding $1 to the price of a pack of cigarettes. The House and Senate both passed a higher tobacco tax on Monday night, April 12th as lawmakers worked to wrap up their special legislative session.

Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, said the increased taxes were intended to send a message about the hazards of smoking. "If you look at tobacco smoking - the actual medical costs of a pack of cigarettes is just over $8.50," he said. Tom said smoking-related medical expenses cost the state $2 billion a year.

But Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley, said majority Democrats were being hypocritical. "Make speeches about how much we dislike people smoking, (but) what you'll notice here, we're not making it illegal..we're just raising the tax on it," she said. "Why don't we stop it? ...is it the millions of dollars the state of Washington makes on cigarettes? We have a budget that does not balance without cigarette and tobacco product taxes...If you want to know who's profiting on the human misery that we're talking about, it's government."

Lawmakers hope to bring in more than $100 million over the next two years from cigarette and tobacco taxes.

The Senate made a minor technical amendment to the bill that must be signed off on by the House.

Democrats said the measure would raise money and discourage smoking, while Republicans said it could just drive tobacco purchases to other state

References: Holy smokes: Lawmakers OK big tobacco tax hike by Chris Grygie, seattlepi.com, 4/12/2010; WA lawmakers OK $1-per-pack cigarette tax hike, The Associated Press - The Olympian, 4/12/2010; • Published April 12, 2010.

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