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Tobacco tax proponents say celebration by other side premature

Tobacco tax proponents say celebration by other side premature



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A tobacco-lobby website is urging people to send Gov. Gary Herbert "thank-you" e-mails because of a pledge that he'll veto a tobacco tax increase. But the governor's office says that claim is "overstated."

Some cards, like earmarks, are off the table. But supporters of a plan to tax tobacco say the fight is far from over. Monday, Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, gave up on a plan to attach earmarks to money that would be raised by a $1.30 per pack tax increase on cigarettes.

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But efforts continue in the Senate and House to pass the tax. Michel Siler of the Utah Cancer Action Network, one of a coalition of groups supporting the tax, said he thinks a bill in some form will pass. But there are hurdles.

"I think that the ideology of a lot of the really strongly conservative people [who oppose a tax increase] is a barrier, a really strong barrier," he said.

The website TobaccoIssues.com is already celebrating a report last week that the governor had veto markers out for any tax increase. It's even calling on people to send e-mails to the governor to say thanks for this action.

But spokeswoman Angie Welling on Tuesday claimed that report was overstated. She said while Gov. Herbert remains philosophically against any tax increase, he'll wait to see what, if any, bill reaches his desk, saying "his signature depends on the bill he gets."

E-mail: mgiauque@ksl.com

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Marc Giauque

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