Michigan House Passes Cigarette Tax Bill

The Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill that would increase the state’s cigarette tax by 75 cents per pack, the Detroit News reported June 6.

The tax would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes to $2, the second highest in the country behind New Jersey’s $2.05 per pack. The additional revenue raised from the tax would address the state’s budget shortfalls.

Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton predicted that the tobacco tax would reduce cigarette sales by 15 percent. “Included in the estimate is those who’d quit smoking, those who’d find alternative means of buying cigarettes, and those who wouldn’t start,” Stanton said.

Opponents of the bill are concerned it would promote smuggling. “Cigarettes were the number-one smuggled commodity in 2003 in the U.S.,” said Jamie Drogin, media-affairs manager for tobacco giant Philip Morris.

But Judy Stewart, campaign leader for a coalition of 104 health groups supporting the tax increase, contends, “Initially there will be an increase in trafficking, but over time people will go back to purchasing cigarettes in their local communities.”

The legislation moves to the Michigan Senate for consideration.