Smokers disagree with tobacco tax increase

miscellanies flavored tobacco products sit in a shelve.

The Oregon Health Authority proposed a tax increase from $1.33 to $2.00 per packet of cigarettes.

The proposal was submitted during the 2019-2021 Governor’s budget. If passed, the tax will also be extended to the already existing wholesale tax on tobacco and vaping products.

According to the Governor’s Budget, the net proceeds from the additional tobacco tax revenue will help support tobacco prevention programs and the Oregon Health Plan and Public Health Modernization.

“The goal is to reduce consumption of tobacco products, save lives and prevent tobacco related disease and we project that it would generate about $346,000,000 over a full biannual,” the Director of Communications for the Oregon Health Authority, Robb Cowie said.

The Oregon Health Authority cites tobacco use as the number one cause of preventable death and disease in Oregon. The Oregon cigarette tax is currently the thirty-second lowest in the nation and the lowest by a large margin, in the west coast.

According to the Governor’s budget, increasing the price of tobacco products is one of the most effective policy tools to reducing tobacco use.

But smokers attempting to quit, disagree with the data presented in the budget.

"I think there's other alternatives to help you quit but jacking the price up is just going to hurt people's pocket books more than anything, I know that for me, [attempting to quit] smoking cigarettes is probably one of the hardest things I've ever attempted," friend to the owner of 42 Degrees smoke shop, Jerry Coffee said.

The state of Oregon does not have an outstanding track record when it comes to increasing the tax on tobacco products.

The 2017 legislative session was the last to see an attempt to increase tobacco tax and it failed to gain the support needed for implementation.

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