California's Cigarette Tax Could Go Up Another Dollar-Fifty Under A New Senate Bill

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Cigarette taxes could go up another dollar-fifty a pack under a bill  introduced today (Tuesday, 3.10) in the state legislature.  Democratic Senator Alex Padilla says it’s one of four measures he’s backing to reduce teen smoking and raise money for cancer research.

Senator Padilla says his bill to hike the state’s cigarette tax by a buck fifty would raise more than a billion dollars for the general fund and health care programs.  He’s already answering critics who argue if the tax encourages more people to kick the habit, the tax revenues will eventually dry up… 
“But we’d also see a parallel reduction in costs.  The health care costs to take care of the health care consequences of smoking and we’d seek a parallel boost in the productivity in the workplace because there would be less people being out sick…”
Padilla’s other bills would ban the sale of cigarettes within one-thousand feet of a school, limit the number of state tobacco licenses available to retailers and allow authorities to confiscate licenses of retailers who are repeatedly caught selling cigarettes to teens.
A spokesman for tobacco giant Altria, formerly known as Phillip Morris says he doubts Padilla’s cigarette tax will pass.  He says lawmakers aren’t in the mood to raise taxes after approving more than 12-billion dollars in tax hikes in the new state budget.