Possible Cigarette Tax Hikes in Store for Alabama, Maine
MONTGOMERY, Ala. and AUGUSTA, Maine -- State representatives in Alabama and Maine are seeking cigarette tax hikes of $1 per pack and $1.50 per pack respectively, reported tobacco-news.net and Forbes.
Alabama State Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) proposed House Bill 457, which would raise the state's cigarette tax to $1.425 per pack. Todd stated that the tax funds would raise an estimated $230 million a year and primarily benefit Medicaid and the Children First Trust Fund, as well as encourage smokers to quit the habit. "It's a win-win," said Todd.
If the bill passes, Alabama's cigarette tax would be the 23rd highest in the country as of last July. However, Speaker Mike Hubbard cast doubt that the bill would go anywhere, since the House has a Republican majority and many Republicans ran on anti-tax platforms during the last election. "I don't see Republicans voting for a 10-cent tax on cigarettes," said Hubbard.
Todd agreed, adding that her goal is to explain the bill, receive feedback and bring it back next year. "Next year, we may get a little further," said Todd. "It's the right thing to do."
Meanwhile, in Maine, the Taxation Committee is reviewing a bill that would raise the state's cigarette tax by $1.50 to $3.50 per pack. If passed, the added revenue would help fund a tobacco help line. According to The American Lung Association of Maine, when the state last raised its cigarette tax by $1, calls to the help line drastically increased.
Groups representing convenience stores, grocers and other tobacco-selling businesses expressed opposition to the bill, citing possible negative impact to businesses and the possibility that a tax increase would simply send smokers across the state line to New Hampshire to purchase their cigarettes.