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Your Guide To Idaho's Tobacco Tax


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Idaho taxes cigarettes at 57 cents per pack.

Idaho taxes cigarettes at 57 cents per pack.  That’s the eighth lowest rate in the country.  During the 2012 legislative session, as in other past sessions, some lawmakers and interest groups attempted to raise the tax.  The plan never made it out of committee.

During the 2012 session, the American Cancer Society and about 25 other groups, wanted to raise Idaho’s cigarette tax by $1.25 per pack.  Bringing the total tax to $1.82 per pack.

Democrats and some Republicans voiced support for the measure, including House Revenue and Taxation Chairman Rep. Dennis Lake (R-Blackfoot).  During the initial bill reading where lawmakers made the decision to not allow a full hearing, Lake said he’s long been a support of this. 

“We have an obligation to protect the health of the people in Idaho,” said Lake.  “Call it social engineering if you will, I call it good sense.”

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The American Cancer Society estimates tobacco use costs Idaho $319 million per year in medical costs.

Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett (R-Challis) told the committee the bill was “the most blatant case of social engineering”  she’d ever seen.  “This proposed tax increase is aimed at a specific group of citizens, which is simply a clever way to pick winners and losers,” Barrett said.  “Tobacco is a legal product and the industry should be treated as all other legitimate industries.”

The American Cancer Society argues if the state raises the tax on tobacco, it will encourage smokers to quit.  The Society, along with supporters of the bill, say tobacco use costs Idaho $319 million a year in health care related costs, $83 million of that is in Medicaid.
The American Cancer Society, and other groups that support raising Idaho’s cigarette tax, face a tough battle by big tobacco lobbyists.  According to a database at the Secretary of State’s website the Philip Morris lobby, Altria Client Services, spent $110,467 to lobby lawmakers in 2011.  The American Cancer Society spent $15,516 on lobbying efforts during the 2011 session.

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