As Kentucky Senate debates budget, a group pushes for cigarette tax increase
The price of a pack of cigarettes could be going up in Kentucky.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A proposal could raise the price of cigarettes in Kentucky by the highest amount in the commonwealth's history.
The Kentucky house included a 50 cent tax increase per pack when it passed a budget last week. The Senate has not approved a budget, and some are pushing for more.
Bonnie Hackbarth and The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky want the rate increased by $1 per pack. Kentucky could generate millions in additional revenue, Hackbarth said, as legislators try to move around money to fund a struggling pension system.
“The 50-cent tax is gonna give about $127 million, and the House budget tied that to school transportation funding," she said.
The commonwealth has one of the lowest tax rates for a pack of cigarettes.
"We rank 43rd in the nation," Hackbarth said. "Our tax is 60 cents per pack, and the average tax on a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $1.72, so there is a great deal of room to move here."
The owner of Kremer’s Smoke Shoppe in Louisville, Gayle Sallee, sells mostly cigars and pipes, but she said the tax will have an impact.
“You’re paying $7 to $8 for one pack, now it’s gonna go to $8 to $9 a pack, so it’s going to be tremendous,” Sallee said.
David Sharp, a smoker who has tried three times to quit, supports the increase even though the tax would cost him more.
“I certainly don’t want to pay more for cigarettes, but I like the idea of anything that applies pressure on people not to smoke or not to start smoking,” Sharp said.
Even if the Kentucky Senate does not include the tax in its version of the budget, it could be added when they work out an agreement in conference committee with the house.
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