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Originally posted by ChameleonCircuit
SEAN MUSSENDEN MEDIA GENERAL NEWS SERVICE
Published: February 5, 2009
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama signed legislation yesterday to more than double the federal cigarette tax to pay for an expansion of health insurance for poor children.
Tobacco companies hurt by declining smoking rates expect the 62-cent increase -- to $1.01 per pack -- to further reduce cigarette sales after it takes effect April 1.
The major tax increase on cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and cigars will fund a $32.8 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, providing coverage to an additional 4.1 million children.
"In a decent society, there are certain obligations that are not subject to tradeoffs or negotiation -- health care for our children is one of those obligations," Obama said at a signing ceremony at the White House.
It's not yet clear how hard the tax increase will hit tobacco companies.
Fitch Ratings, a bond-rating firm, said it expects a 4 percent to 7 percent drop in cigarette sales this year.
David Sutton, spokesman for Philip Morris USA in Richmond, said it was difficult to say how the tax increase would affect the company's bottom line.
Tommy Payne, spokesman for Reynolds American Inc., a tobacco company in Winston-Salem, N.C., said the company expects industrywide volume declines of 6 percent to 8 percent.
The federal increase comes after a series of cigarette-tax increases by dozens of states during the past five years. The trend has driven up cigarette prices and is expected to continue.
So far this year, 16 states -- including Virginia -- have considered legislation to increase cigarette taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. On Tuesday, the Virginia Senate's Finance Committee rejected Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's proposal to double the tax to 60 cents per pack.
Increases are expected this year in states that historically have opposed raising cigarette taxes, including South Carolina, which has the nation's lowest state cigarette tax of 7 cents per pack, and Mississippi, third-lowest at 18 cents per pack.
Richard Cauchi, health program director for the conference of state legislatures, said it's difficult to say how many of those proposed increases will pass.
In 2007, tobacco-tax increases passed in 11 states. Last year, 20 states debated increases, but only two passed. They were unusually large -- a $1 increase in Massachusetts and $1.25 in New York. At $2.75 a pack, New York has the country's highest cigarette taxes.
Two factors have the potential to spark another wave of tax increases this year, tobacco analysts said. The prolonged economic downturn has created budget deficits in nearly every state. Lawmakers generally face less resistance to increasing "sin taxes" than income taxes or sales taxes paid by everyone.
Job losses have swelled the ranks of the uninsured, and cigarette taxes often are pegged to pay for expansions of government health-insurance programs.
Well, maybe instead of fake coughing at me the next time im smoking outside, 100 ft. from the door, you should instead thank me for little timmy's insulin. I already pay taxes, I shouldnt have to pay more for makingthe decision to kill myself slowly.
"Civil asset forfeiture has allowed police to view all of America as some giant national K-Mart, where prices are not just lower, but non-existent — a sort of law enforcement 'pick-and-don't-pay.'" —U.S. Representative Henry Hyde,
Most forfeiture cases are never contested, in part because contesting the proceedings can cost more than the value of what's been confiscated. "The average vehicle siezed is worth about $4,000," states FEAR president Brenda Grantland, Esq. "To defend a case, especially when you're out of state, they've pretty much made it cost prohibitive." Under civil asset forfeiture laws, the simple possession of cash, with no drugs or other contraband, can be considered evidence of criminal activity.
"Findings suggest asset forfeiture is a dysfunctional policy. Forfeiture programs, while serving to generate income, prompt drug enforcement to serve functions that are inherently contradictory and often at odds with the demands of justice."
—Mitchell Miller & Lance H. Selva,
Jared Shoemaker examines the negative impact on law enforcement goals and practices when police agencies aggressively pursue civil asset forfeitures as a means of supplementing their budgets, as well as how police agencies' addiction to forfeiture revenue leads to disregard for individual due process rights, sometimes with tragic and life-altering consequences for innocent individuals.
"Even if you're a law-abiding citizen who's never been convicted of a crime, local police are allowed to confiscate your property and money and keep up to 80 percent of it for themselves, with the legal stipulation that this windfall be spent only on programs likely to result in additional confiscations where the police can keep up to 80 percent of the booty for themselves," wrote Jennifer Abel in an October, 2007
Originally posted by winotka
Granted, I don't agree with sin taxes.
I'm not faking the allergies I have to the fumes you may not realize are wafting my way. I've had several upper resp. infections because I couldn't avoid being around it.
Smokers tend to believe that people like us are whiners, making it up, etc. They think if they do it outside then we shouldn't care. I get the diesel and car fumes argument, too.