Report addresses cigarette tax issue

Report addresses cigarette tax issue

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A new report is casting doubt on whether a higher cigarette tax would be a good idea in Utah.

The report from the Utah Tax Review Commission was released Thursday. It acknowledges raising the cigarette tax from 69.5 cents per pack to $2 could add an additional $50 million to the state budget. But the commission's report says the tax targets a narrow base of taxpayers, it's regressive in nature and squeezes money from people with an addiction.

Lawmakers now are debating whether buying a pack of cigarettes is a function of addiction or choice. The commission also questions other research showing a link between higher cigarette prices and lower demand.

The Deseret News reports even though the number of smokers in Utah has decreased since the late 1970s, the state collected $54 million from cigarettes alone last year.

Last year lawmakers tabled a bill that would have raised the cigarette tax. Legislators will address the issue again in January.

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