MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Well we are winding down another week in the legislature and we are running out of weeks. The Gambling Bill filed this week is getting most of the press, as it probably should. It is a very decisive bill and if passed should have revenue consequences for many years to come.
I want to focus on what I said over a month ago was the easiest revenue generating opportunity that we have and the most meaningful in regards to future health costs and concerns. House Bill 572 by Representative Patricia Todd would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 25 cents.
A public hearing was held this week to discuss this bill. I am floored that this even requires a public hearing. Alabama is one of the bottom three states in the country with its cigarette tax. Cigarette smoking is bad for your health and those around you. Raising the tax 25 cents is estimated to bring in $60 million in tax revenue.
My only question is why 25 cents? Why not more. Opponents say that business owners will lose revenue from those coming in from neighboring states. Some say the tax is targeted to the poor as they are more likely to buy cigarettes and that any tax that greatly effects those who can't afford it is a bad tax. I could talk all night about that one.
A tax on cigarettes is a complete no brainer. It taxes those who choose to be taxed. If you do not want to be taxed don't buy cigarettes. It will also help to deter adolescents from starting a habit that is proven to cause disease that can kill them, and the tax raises money. It's money this state badly needs.
Pass this bill now and move forward to the next item that will help get Alabama back on the path to fiscal responsibility.