Utah Tobacco Tax Hike Leads to Decreased Cigarette Sales

Since Utah increased its tobacco tax last year from 69.5 cents per pack to $1.70, cigarette sales have dropped 15 percent. State Tax Commission data suggests that at the current rate, between 11 million and 12 million fewer cigarette packs will be sold this year compared with last year, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Revenue from the tax has doubled compared with the year before, the newspaper reports. Proponents of the new tax estimated about 13,000 people would quit smoking after the tax was raised. New figures indicate, however, the number is much higher—about 19,000 one-pack-a-day smokers have quit.

Calls to the state-run tobacco quit line have increased by more than 150 percent since the tax increase was instituted, according to Rep. Paul Ray, who sponsored the tax hike.

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    August 1, 2011 at 9:07 PM

    Amid reports of success, I am concerned that a problem not be overlooked: historically increased revenues from tobacco taxes create an incentive for the government, or its members, to protect and service the cigarette companies in various ways as a reward for that tax revenue which the government has grown dependent on (almost as much as the addict on the nicotine). One such “protection” is to invest more revenue in law enforcement against cannabis users, which benefits the tobacco cigarette oligopoly in two main ways: (1) it deters some citizens from using cannabis as a means to help quit tobacco; (2) it deters most citizens from possessing and using dosage reduction utensils (one-hitters, vaporizers) for fear of being observed and accused of a connection with illegal cannabis. This latter deterrence strategy blocks masses of tobacco users, without having to quit tobacco, from shifting from the high-profit 700-mg-every-time-you-want-a-smoke cigarette format to a 25-mg-per serving one-hitter or other dosage-restriction method which would soon (I say deservedly) bankrupt the cigarette companies and also abruptly reduce that WHO-estimated 6,000,000-per-year death toll.

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    Annie Peterson

    August 1, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Since Utah is discouraging smoking with the tax hike, Salt Lake City International Airport needs to follow the lead and close the smoking rooms on all of their concourses. It is a terrible example to children who I observed standing in front of smoking room with no doors and supports special concessions to people who smoke that are unacceptable other places in Utaha and around the nation.

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