In an effort to soften a looming budget crisis in Alabama, two lawmakers are trying to raise state cigarette taxes by up to $1 a pack.
In a state that ranks near the bottom in property taxes and near the top in sales and grocery taxes, it might be asking too much to expect any common sense when it comes to tobacco taxes.
Indeed, Alabama has the fifth lowest cigarette tax in the nation, at 42.5 cents per pack, according to the American Lung Association. Meanwhile, the percentages of adults and high school students in Alabama who smoke are above the national average.
Two Democratic state legislators have filed bills to raise cigarette taxes in the upcoming legislative session, according to The Birmingham News. Their stated goals are to help soften a $400 million shortfall in the next General Fund budget.
Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, wants to raise the tax by 32.5 cents per pack. This would add an estimated $75 million to annual state tax revenues. Rep. Joe Hubbard, D-Montgomery, wants to raise the tax by $1 a pack, meaning an estimated $230 million in additional revenue.
This would mean a total state cigarette tax of 75 cents under Todd’s proposal or $1.425 under Hubbard’s plan. The national median for state cigarette taxes is $1.29, but state taxes range up to $4.25 per pack.