The Yadkin County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a resolution in opposition to the tobacco tax. Commissioner Kevin Austin made the motion and said that he felt that Yadkin County had a history with tobacco growers and that our agricultural heritage was very important to the county and the people, as well as the locals who are employed with tobacco manufacturers.
The following resolution was approved 5-0 on March 25, however, additional language has been requested prior to the measure being sent to legislators in Raleigh.
WHEREAS, Governor Beverly Perdue has proposed to balance the shortfall in the State’s budget in part by increasing the tax on tobacco;
WHEREAS, the Governor’s proposal would increase the State tax on cigarettes by $1.00, in addition to a $0.62 increase in the federal tax on cigarettes, which will become effective April 1, 2009;
WHEREAS, the proposed State tobacco tax increase combined with the federal increase in the tobacco tax would result in an average retail price for cigarettes in North Carolina of approximately $5.50 per pack;
WHEREAS, the proposed tobacco tax increase could be destructive to the tobacco industry, including Reynolds American, Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, major tobacco manufacturers and employers of Yadkin County citizens;
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners hereby express its opposition to the above-described proposed State tobacco tax increase.
Two bills are currently being considered in the general assembly that will affect the price of cigarettes. House bill 640, filed on March 17, primarily sponsored by Jennifer Weiss, Rep. of Wake County, Rep. Rick Glazier of Cumberland County, Paul Luebke, Representing Durham County, and Rep. William Wainwright of Craven and Lenior Counties,co-sponsored by Martha Alexander, representative for Mecklenburg County, and Verla Insko of Orange County.
HB640 levies a tax of 5.5 cents per individual cigarette, $.375 cents of which are directed to the Trust Fund for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services and Bridge Funding Needs. The remainder of the tax shall be deposited to the General Fund. This bill also proposes to place and excise tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes at the rate of 31% of the cost of the products. This bill passed the first reading of the house and was forwarded for recommendations and approval to the Committee on Mental Health Reform and then on to Finance.
Senate bill 777 introduced by Linda Garrou, a Senator representing Forsyth County, was filed on March 24, and is currently in the Committee on Finance. This bill addresses taxing of tobacco products other than cigarettes and is scheduled to become effective on July 1, should it pass.
The federal excise tax that went into effect on April 1, increased from $.39 to $1.01, which is reportedly the single largest federal tobacco tax increase ever. The increase will supposedly fund a State Children’s Health Insurance Program which will give money to the states to provide insurance coverage to children from families who make too much money to get Medicaid, but are too poor to afford private insurance.
The effects of thousands of people suffering nicotine withdrawal as well as the possible loss of employment due to businesses who readily depend on the manufacture and sale of tobacco products remains to be seen.