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Big tobacco tells Cretul: No net gain with cig tax

House Speaker Larry Cretul heard from lobbyists for the nation's largest tobacco companies in his office this morning with an anti-tax pitch that warned if the House agrees with the Senate and raises the cigarette tax, the state will see its revenue from Big Tobacco decline.

That's because these companies predict that buyers will switch to lower-priced cigarettes that don't pay into the tobacco settlement fund. Without raising the cigarette tax, the state will get $2.4 billion in Medicaid money, they said.

"People all of a sudden would have a choice,'' said Larry Williams of Reynolds Tobacco. "Do they want to stop smoking or swithc to a product that's $2 a pack less.''

"Our mission is to say, first people who use our product -- 55 percent of them are at the poverty level -- and if you're going to balance the budget, you're going to balance it on their backs.'' 

The industry lobbyists weren't the only ones offering arguments against the cigarette tax. Finance and Tax Committee Chairwomen Ellyn Bogdanoff sat in the meeting and suggested that if people stop buying cigarettes, they also stop visiting convenience stores.

 "Twenty-two percent of all sales in convenience stores are cigarettes,'' she said. "We need to look at everything. IF they don't go in to buy cigarettes, they don't buy the coke. They don't buy the chips.''

Comments

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Non-Smoker

Wouldn't the tax go up on cheaper cigarettes too? So isn't Mr. Williams' argument completely flawed? Dare I say it....tobacco company spin!

Patty

Let's go ahead and encourage those on the poverty level to continue their diet of cigarettes, coke and chips. Bogdanoff's assertion is ridiculous and offensive!
Seriously,cigarette smoking is such a vile habit, most people will not switch brands.

OD

Maybe they should drug test all the people that get social security and welfare so they can see that 89% of them use their check to do drugs.

Nik

If people are on the poverty line, shouldn't they be buying food instead of cigarettes anyways? Priorities people.

Billy Johnston

Bogdanoff really cares about the health and welfare of the proletariat. What an incredible hypothesis! How do all the other convenient stores get by throughout this country that have a much higher cigarette tax rate.
Bogdanoff name sounds familiar. Could this callous, lobbyist puppet be related to the Broward Attorney who makes a practice out of defending the wealthy when their caught in their unscroupeless ways.Now he's trying to get the former Yankee drunk out of killig a poor sole while partying through life. Disgusting people, both of them

FDAvsEPA

Even if there are less sales all that means is less people smoking which in turn leads to better health

observer

Buying their cigarettes, chips, and cokes at a convenience store??? No wonder they're poor!

Go ahead and tax them -- they've already proven they're too dumb to notice!

discodog

Once the revenue drops from the increase of Tax on tobacco, do you genius's think that's the end of it. They will find something else to Tax, like your V8 Juice. Stay healthy and STUPID.

JL

I hope we will wake up and realize that all of those smokers under the poverty level are costing the state millions in extra healthcare costs because we (the govt and private insurance holders) pay much of the costs for very low income people. Why shouldnt we try to tax them more and recoup some of our money that they are wasting. I firmly believe adequate and basic healthcare is a right but we should not be on the hook for higher costs because someone decides to smoke and thinks they are invincible!

Thomas

Hard to believe all these people replying to this article are FOR taxes.

Rick

Imposing a sin tax on cigarettes is picking on the afflicted. Smoking is a hard habit to break and many can't do it even when facing death. I do not smoke but I did for many years and know how difficult it was to quit. In my lifetime I have seen when smoking was the hip thing to do and everybody smoked on screen and tv to now when you are treated like a leper by many. Smokers are already persecuted for their habit and it unfair to financially drain them.

FM

Hey, maybe Bogdanoff has a point. Maybe the solution to Florida's budget deficit is if we all start smoking and getting our soft drinks and chips at the convenience stores. I'm sure the sales tax revenue from convenience store sales will increase enough that we'll be able to discover a lung and throat cancer vaccine in weeks.

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