Lawmaker resurrects tobacco tax increase

Save Story
Leer en espaƱol

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Insisting it's about health, not money, a Utah senator hopes this is the year a tax increase on cigarette sales can get past the Legislature. Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, unveiled his plans to increase the state tax on cigarettes by $1.30 per pack. The current tax is roughly $.70.

Surrounded by members of the "Alliance for Tobacco-Free Living," a group of health care and human services organizations, Christensen claimed increasing the tax would prevent more than 14,000 young people from smoking in the future.

He said, "It's costing the rest of us too much to keep subsidizing their individual choices, and this bill will change that."

He also claimed smoking costs every Utah household roughly $500 every year in public health costs associated with tobacco related illnesses.

"If those folks that continue to use tobacco will leave the state's budget alone and the impact they're causing on it, then I'll leave them alone," Christensen said. "They impact my budget, I'm going to impact their budget. If they will drop that habit, that'll free up so much money in their lives, thousands of dollars per year, per family."

Lawmaker resurrects tobacco tax increase

A similar bill failed last year, but Christensen thinks the bill has a reasonable chance.

"I want the health issues to get passed," he said. "I want that new impediment put in front of people who want to continue their tobacco habit."

Christensen says Utah's tobacco tax is the 36th highest in the nation. His bill would move Utah up to 11th highest in the country.

That impediment could earn the state as much as $50 million; a tempting sum in a time of deep budget cuts.

But several lawmakers and the governor have already pledged they wouldn't increase taxes this year. But Christensen said he had it "on good authority" that the governor would sign the bill if it were to make it through the Legislature.


Story compiled with contributions from Marc Giauque and John Daley.

Related links

Related stories

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast