New Bill Would Increase California’s Cigarette Tax by $2 Per Pack
A new bill (SB 591), by state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), would add an additional $2 tax to packs of cigarettes to discourage Californians from smoking, the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports.
The current state tax on a pack of 20 cigarettes is 87 cents plus a $1.01 federal tax.
Details of SB 591
In addition to discouraging smokers from buying cigarettes, the tax would generate about $1.4 billion annually to fund:
- Expanded treatment services for Medi-Cal beneficiaries;
- Research about smoking-related diseases; and
- Smoking prevention efforts.
Medi-Cal is the state's Medicaid program.
Pan said, "California's tobacco tax rate is currently among the lowest in the nation with 32 other states having a higher tax rate," adding, "SB 591 would put California's tobacco tax rate at eighth in the nation and ... restore California's highly effective smoking prevention and research program."
If the measure fails in the Legislature, supporters say they are prepared to take it to the November 2016 ballot, which would require a two-thirds vote and Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) signature. However, the tobacco industry has blocked similar attempts in the past.
The tobacco tax increase is supported by:
- The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network;
- The America Heart Association;
- The American Lung Association in California;
- The California Hospital Association;
- The California Medical Association;
- Health Access California; and
- The Service Employees International Union California (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 3/3).