Cigarette tax bill raises questions about usage, effectiveness

INDIANAPOLIS (WOWO): The cigarette tax hike House Republicans have proposed in their road funding bill isn’t faring any better with opponents than the rest of the package.

House Republicans say their cigarette tax hike doesn’t really pay for roads — it would go to Medicaid to free up that money for roads. But opponents of the bill say that feels like a stretch.

And while anti-smoking groups argue even tax hike opponents should support this one as a public-health measure, Senate President Pro Tem David Long says you can’t separate the tax hike from the road repairs it’s intended to pay for. He says when the goal is to find a sustainable funding source for roads, it’s a mistake to rely on funding that’s designed to go down as more smokers quit.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath notes he’s voted for cigarette tax increases in the past, but says the House Republican proposal needs to be reviewed very carefully. And he notes Governor Pence appeared to rule out any tax increase in his State of the State address.

Health groups claim the dollar-a-pack increase would prevent 41-thousand deaths from smoking-related illnesses.

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