Posted on March 18, 2013 at 12:09 AM
Monday, Mar 18 at 8:15 AM
BATON ROUGE -- For smokers across Louisiana, lighting up could soon become pricier, as lawmakers will consider a plan to raise cigarette taxes by $1.05 per pack.
Smokers we caught up with Sunday were split over the issue.
"Why don't you throw 10 or 20 cents on some fast food okay? Smoking, if you choose to do it, you know the consequences of it, what's the big deal," smoker Matthew James said.
Tim Benedict, meanwhile, said he sees the positives it could deliver to the state financially.
"I'm thinking more about the state of our state. I mean, I'm hurting myself by smoking so, to add an extra dollar to help out everyone else in the state seems okay," he said.
The idea is part of a much larger tax plan by Governor Bobby Jindal -- one that calls for eliminating the state's income and corporate taxes, while raising the sales tax to 5.88 percent.
"The sales tax would bring more stability to our government revenues. It will bring more stability to funding of government services and I know that is a critical concern for many of us," Jindal said Thursday.
The cigarette proposal would increase the state's tax from 36 cents, to $1.41 per pack.
Eyewitness News Political Analyst Clancy DuBos believes that will be well received, but questions remain, he says, on other parts of the sales tax plan.
"I think there is overwhelming support, in the legislature and among voters, for raising the cigarette tax. That's the easy part," DuBos said. "But even the $1.05 increase that Jindal is proposing only raises about $400 million, maybe a little more. He needs to make up $3.1 billion, so he needs to come up with around $2.7 billion and that's hard to do with sales taxes."
More details of the plan should come into focus soon though, as lawmakers head to Baton Rouge next month for the 2013 Legislative Session.
Two years ago, Gov. jindal opposed a 70-cent cigarette tax increase, and last year, he vetoed a four-cent tax renewal on tobacco.