Tobacco Taxes: State Health Care Reforms

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Separate from the federal health care overhaul, some states have been working behind the scenes on plans to increase taxes on cigarettes as measures to both to discourage unhealthy habits and build up their coffers.

New York, New Mexico, Kansas and Washington State have all considered increasing state taxes on cigarettes.

New Mexico governor Bill Richardson approved an increase in the state cigarette tax by 75 cents to $1.66 a pack, according to the Farmington, New Mexico Daily Times.  Other tobacco products, however, may not see a tax increase.

In Kansas, Gov. Mark Parkinson has proposed a tax increase of 55 cents per pack, and cigars and other tobacco products could be taxed as much as 40%, according to the Southwest Times.

The Washington State Senate is set to consider a $1-a-pack increase to a total tax of $3.025, a measure that’s already been passed by the House, according to The Herald.

And New York State is considering an increase of a $1 a pack as well, for a total tax of $3.75 per pack, a national high, according to the New York Daily News following a rejection by the State Assembly of higher taxes on sugary drinks.

Proponents of higher taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products say that new tax legislation could mean significant savings on health care costs due to tobacco use.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is responsible for $96 billion a year in medical costs and $97 billion more in lost lost productivity, notes The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla.

In addition to being subject to additional state taxes, under the health care bill signed by President Obama and making its way to the Senate, smokers may also be required to pay higher health care premiums than non-smokers, notes the Daily Breeze.

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