Utah Governor Huntsman to propose $3.00 tax on…

… cigarettes, in order to eliminate food taxes.

http://deseretnews.com/article/0,5143,705275669,00.html

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. wants to raise cigarette taxes by enough so the state can afford to finally eliminate state sales taxes on food purchases despite the troubled economy. 

The exact amount of the governor’s proposed increase has not yet been determined, his spokeswoman, Lisa Roskelley, said, but he is expected to recommend raising the tax on a pack of cigarettes to around $3.

The current tax on each pack of cigarettes is $0.70.  The governor is apparently expected to raise the ciagarette tax 400%! That’s an enormous tax raise.

Now first, let me get this out of the way: I’m a politically conservative individual who doesn’t smoke, or drink. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever, in the entirety of my life had a cigarette in my mouth.

I’d like to say, I commend the governor’s desire to get rid of sales tax on food purchases.  In a trouble economy, that really does assist the residents of Utah, and can make a big difference on household budget.

that being said, the state needs the tax money. So, we’ve got to get it from somewhere. But consider this: Currently, the state of Utah is sharing this burden of tax to fill whatever monetary needs the state has. Huntsman proposes that we cut those contribution all the way down to only the people that smoke?

I know that smoking is a big health-no-no, and I realize that motivating people to quite is a great thing. But this goes way beyond that. I know you can argue that “well they don’t have to buy cigarettes!” but comeon’, really? Targeting a couple hundred thousand smokers with a multi-billion dollar budget that was previously filled by millions of people? That’s just not right.

While I want the food tax gone as much as the next guy, we shouldn’t unjustly target groups to fulfill those needs.