Health care advocates are calling for Kansas lawmakers to increase tobacco taxes to help fill a budget hole of more than $400 million. Dr. Roy Jensen, with the University of Kansas Cancer Center, says the governor’s proposed tax increase on tobacco could cause thousands of Kansans to quit or never start smoking. He says that could save the state a billion dollars in health care costs in the coming decades and possibly prevent up to 15,000 deaths.
“People try to cast this initiative solely as a budget Band-Aid. I would like to march 15,000 people into this Capitol and show them this is not just a budget Band-Aid,” says Jensen.
Governor Sam Brownback has proposed increasing cigarette taxes by $1.50 per pack. He’s also proposed increasing other tobacco taxes and alcohol taxes. So far, lawmakers have not shown much interest in the proposals, but they could become part of a larger tax plan. Some critics of raising tobacco taxes call the move “regressive” and say it could drive shoppers across the border to Missouri.
Anti-Smoking Advocates Voice Support for Cigarette Tax Hike
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Health advocates say they support a proposed state tax hike to cigarettes. Representatives of Kansans for a Healthy Future said at a Monday news conference that increasing cigarette taxes would both bring in revenue and save the state money as it reduces smoking. The organization is a comprised of community anti-smoking advocates. Republican Governor Sam Brownback has proposed increasing the cigarette tax from 79 cents to $2.29 a pack. He has also recommended raising the tax on other tobacco products from 10 percent to 25 percent the state looks to fill budget shortfalls of roughly $422 million. Terry Dunn, chairman of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, said at the conference that the tax would make the state more proactive about health and competitiveness.