How they voted to kill the cigarette tax hike

Just in case you missed, or got whiplash trying to follow, the peremptory manner in which the House threw out the idea of even a modest increase in our lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax, Cindi Scoppe relates a few salient facts about it on today’s editorial page — including the one about how the money would have gone to helping the state get serious, for the first time, about youth smoking prevention and cessation (beyond the fact, of course, that increasing the tax in an of itself exerts downward pressure on the rate of teenage smoking).

What Cindi didn’t have room for in her column was how they voted. I’ll supply that:

The House voted 58-53 to table a budget amendment that would have increased the cigarette tax by 30 cents a pack.

Here’s the amendment, followed by the vote:

/64 (DOR: Cigarette tax) (A)   In addition to the tax imposed pursuant to Section 12-21-620(1), there is imposed an additional tax equal to 1.5 cents on each cigarette made of tobacco or any substitute for tobacco. The tax imposed pursuant to this paragraph must be reported, paid, collected, and enforced in the same manner as the tax imposed pursuant to Section 12-21-620(1).
(B)   There are created in the state treasury, separate and distinct from the general fund of the State, the Youth Smoking Prevention and Cessation Fund and the South Carolina Health and Prevention Fund. Four percent of the revenue generated by this additional tax must be credited to the Youth Smoking Prevention and Cessation Fund and monies in the fund must be used by the Department of Health and Environmental Control in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control recommended comprehensive programs using best practices for youth smoking prevention and cessation programs. One percent of the revenue generated by this additional tax must be credited to the Department of Agriculture for research and promotion of healthy lifestyles with food grown in this State. The remaining revenue generated by this additional tax must be credited to the South Carolina Health and Prevention Fund. The General Assembly shall appropriate the monies from the South Carolina Health and Prevention Fund to critical programs that meet health needs of South Carolinians, including using funds for a Medicaid match each year, as needed. The monies credited to these funds are exempt from budgetary cuts or reductions caused by the lack of general fund revenues. Earnings on investments of monies in the funds must be credited to the respective fund and used for the same purposes as other monies in the funds. Any monies in the funds not expended during the fiscal year must be carried forward to the succeeding fiscal year and used for the same purposes./

Voting to table the amendment (58)

E. H. Pitts
G. R. Smith
J. R. Smith
W. D. Smith

Voting to support the amendment (53)

G. Brown
J. Brown
R. Brown
J. Hines
J. H. Neal
J. M. Neal
D. C. Smith
G. M. Smith
J. E. Smith

32 thoughts on “How they voted to kill the cigarette tax hike

  1. Doug

    I hope The State will feature this blatant protection of the smoking lobby more prominently in its news coverage over the coming days. Those jokers think they can get away with anything.

  2. Laughing

    Didn’t quite a few states win a lawsuit not too terribly long ago, grabbing millions of dollars meant to help “educate” youth and people about the evils of smoking and to pay for alot of nonexistant medical costs the state claimed?

    Wonder what happened to all that monry?

    Besides, tax increase on anything isn’t a popular topic.

  3. bill

    Thanks for the names.This is an absolute disgrace.How do they sleep?
    A tax increase on the deadliest drug on the planet seems to be the only popular one-just not with this legislature.

  4. j.dooley

    You cant get anything cheap but a lot of trouble, and this will get you alot of trouble. You want everything for free, life is not free, unless you live in a rural area of SC.

  5. Capital A

    I’m waiting on the tax on those Doritos(tm) and Pepsis(tm) that are pure poison as well. Oh, wait, those aren’t the fashionable killers to tax in effigy.
    I’ll let you boys get back to blowing smoke.
    (No, I’m not a smoker.)

  6. Lee

    We just recently had a tax increase of more than $1.00 a pack, which was supposed to go towards health care and anti-smoking campaigns. Almost all the money was diverted to other pork projects.
    I salute the legislators who voted down this tax increase, admitting they were not capable of spending the money properly.

  7. bill

    Nearly 1 of every 5 deaths is related to smoking. Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.
    American Cancer Society

  8. Capital A

    What are the statistics on deaths caused by junk foods and unhealthy diets? I want to spearhead the SAS tax (Sodas and Snacks tax) if similar propaganda can be found to back my position. Of course, this would be the PAS tax for citizens of northern climes.
    If successful, I may even sponsor the Maurice’s Manger-Non Manifesto. If we’re going to viciously tax unhealthy habits, we may as well go the whole hog, huh?
    (Once again, before you start, I don’t smoke.)

  9. Lee

    How about a tax on newspapers?
    Oh, no, because the power to tax is the power to destroy. Even a 1 cent sales tax is oppressive.
    But for the businesses which jouralists hate, no tax is too high.

  10. Brad Warthen

    Lee, I should put you in touch with our CFO. He was crying the blues to me yesterday about the ungodly amounts the paper has to pay in taxes. Maybe you would enjoy hearing about it more than I do.
    Laughing, yep — the state got a fortune from the tobacco industry that in any sane and sensible place would have been used for smoking prevention and cessation and for off-setting health-related costs. But our lawmakers didn’t do that. Instead, they blew it in various ways. Here’s one: They gave away $120 million to tobacco growers, who were already getting their separate settlement of $360 million from the cigarette manufacturers.
    Of course, Lee might call that “putting the money to work again out in the deserving, productive private sector.” I call it a giveaway, and a waste.
    We have favored raising the cigarette tax for years, even while taking the position that no other state tax should be raised or lowered without comprehensive tax reform. Why did we make that one exception? Because for us it wasn’t about the revenue; it was about pricing cigarettes out of the reach of young people. There is an amply demonstrated correlation between the cost of a pack, including taxes, and the number of teenagers who smoke. If people don’t get hooked before they’re 21, they mostly likely never will.
    For other groups — the hospitals and other advocates of increased Medicaid funding — it was about the money. For us, that was a side benefit, and no cure-all. Medicaid costs — like medical costs at this newspaper, and throughout the private sector — are increasing at such a rate that even a huge increase in the cigarette tax (much less the small one the legislators rejected) would only pay for one year’s increase in Medicaid. You’d be back in the hole the next year. That’s why the nation’s entire health care system needs an overhaul.
    Anyway, I just thought I’d inject a little perspective…

  11. Paul DeMarco

    I pay plenty of taxes and don’t like it any more than the next guy. But a cigarette tax makes a great deal of sense. It taxes those who are smoking rather than the entire population, reduces teenage smoking, and if the funds generated are funneled into Medicaid, it will help defray some of the medical costs smokers inevitably produce.

  12. Capital A

    How about we tax those churches? There’s a mint to be made on Jesus junkies and angel addicts.
    For the slow kids, yes, I’m being my usual ironic self in trying to point out an industry that is being scapegoated.
    Are the cigarette companies to be admired? Surely not. Is the junk food industry well meaning and benevolent in its profferings? Chomp again. Is the rate of diabetes and the general health of young Americans at an all time bloat? Hard to swallow, but yes.
    If Lee and I, two people who can’t even agree on how many atoms are contained in a molecule of smog, can somewhat agree on this issue, then there must be something to that event.
    How long until the taxhounds come for your addiction and –poof– it disappears in a cloud of opportunistic smoke signals and politically correct number crunching?
    Food (maybe, only a snack) for thought…

  13. Capital A

    Once again, before you start without having read my above postings, I DO NOT smoke, but I realize opportunism and political correctness run amuck when I see it.
    Didn’t we start a revolution (in part) because Jolly Ole England wanted to tax our “addictions”? Sons and daughters, patriots and patriettes, have you forgotten yesterday’s gunsmoke?

  14. David

    My sister is a Registered Nurse in one of our rural hospitals in South Carolina.
    Maybe this happens all over but it is easier to see in our small towns but she tells me she is amazed at the numbers of young people (I am talking 12-15 year olds) that she sees at the hospital and around town that smoke openly – some right in front of and with their parents.
    She treats teenagers that are standing outside the hospital smoking at the age of 14-15- some of them pregnant.
    This isn’t scientific but she tells me she thinks is is worse now than even 5 years ago – (maybe she just pays attention to it more).
    Cigs are very cheap – and even cheaper in some of our rural areas. Selling to a kid is a common thing -(not enough state money to pay for people to enforce this rule).
    We pay so much more out in health costs for these people than we would ever take in.
    and dang it if I don’t seem to end up seated near or standing right next to one when they light up so I get to breathe it to. Lucky me.

  15. Herb

    Come on, Capital A. You comparing tea and cigarettes? You gotta’ be kidding.
    Besides, I doubt that a revolution was really justified over taxes that the British imposed. I am more inclined to credit the American revolution to Benjamin Franklin’s personal vendetta against England, and they didn’t treat him all that badly.
    In spite of Mel Gibson and The Patriot, I would agree with the venerable Rev. John Wesley that the American Revolution didn’t need to happen. It would have been so much easier if we and Canada could have been united. Think of it — one less border to patrol. And think of the amount of money we would have saved on the 4th of July. I’m sure that fireworks cost us more than cigarettes.

  16. Lee

    You editors sat on your hands while Hodges and the legislature diverted the $1.00 per pack tobacco tax to farmers and teacher pay raises, so you have no right to cry for more money now. You abdicated your role as citizens and your vocation.

  17. Lee

    I invite the CFO of THE STATE to come here and tell us why a sales tax on newspapers is a violation of the right of free speech. He can also explain why the offices and plant were moved outside the city limits to avoid property taxes.

  18. Dave

    Herb, Ben Franklin was a reluctant and eleventh hour convert to the cause to get him to sign the DOI. But after he changed his mind about the British, he was fully engaged and supportive.

    The revolution was really led by a coalition of business elites and lawyer types who really resented the Stamp Tax Act. Every single piece of paper was slapped with a tax by the King to raise some money for England. Imagine if someone proposed a special tax on lawyers in this country now – that would be our second revolution. The same reason why the lawyers resist and throttle back torte reform. All about money of course.

  19. Lee

    The American Revolution was led by egalitarians in Freemasonry. George Washington was the leader of the Freemasons in the colonies.

  20. Brad Warthen

    Lee, I don’t know what you’re smoking, but you must have us confused with some other newspaper. Or perhaps you are simply of the school of "thought" that involves making a completely unfounded judgment about other people, then assuming the facts fit your judgment.

    If you’d actually like to know what we were saying at the time, you could read this, or this, or this… I am bewildered as to how any group of editors could have written and published such things while sitting on their hands. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

    And The State moved from Main Street when I was less than a year old. I’m older than the CFO, and he’s worked here for less than a year. I don’t think either one of us is going to be able to answer your question as to why a bunch of dead guys made the dumb move of taking a newspaper away from the city in 1954. It is a huge, daily inconvenience to be out here in the boonies. The only advantage from my perspective is that we work in an unusually nice newspaper building (they’re usually dumps), and there’s always a place to park. Other than that, our location is a pain in the rear. But then, I have to put up with a lot of those.

  21. Lee

    Nice history, Brad, but I happen to think that someone who was seriously interested in honest government would write editorials TODAY about how the politicians stole the cigarette and sales taxes, and demand that all the money be restored BEFORE asking for another tax increase.
    Any idiot can raise taxes. That takes no skills in managing a government, no effort, no thought.

  22. Dave

    Brad, thanks for the correction. Actually, Dobish Tortes are really excellent so subconsciously I must have been thinking of those when I slipped up. See how this is a common blog mistake !
    Then again, some may be working on torte reform right now. Check A dessert thicker than a Texas Governor!

    On a more serious note, since the bill was only tabled, would it be correct to assume it is still in play? I think a compromise will come out of it.

  23. David

    Brad is wearing you out man. I’d give it up.
    Do you not read the editorial page? It is cool if you don’t but strange to make comments about it if you don’t.
    Ms. Scoppe seems to write a column every other week about things the legislators have screwed up in the past – and things that have shoved down our throats behind the scenes.
    The legislators don’t give a rip what The State paper or any other paper writes about them. They do care when people call them and write them about what a newspaper said about them. I have learned that recently myself.
    But if you are waiting on our legislators to go back and fix a previous screw up before they do something now- you might as well be waiting for Archie Bunker to become a liberal.

  24. bill

    President Bush is pressing hard for Congress to enact a Torte Reform bill.I am with him all the way on this one. He links Torte Reform to health care issues, as do I. He would like a reform bill to be enacted quickly, as would I. This is an area where we suffer by comparison to our European trading partners, especially France, Switzerland, Austria, The Czech Republic and Italy, and which effects our balance of payments numbers, especially when it comes to tourism. Early action is required for the sake of our health, our morale and our economy.
    While the torte situation has long been grave in middle America and the South (excluding New Orleans), it is the major cultural centers, especially New York, San Francisco and Chicago, that have been hardest hit by the problem. In New York, for example, there has been a steady decline in the quality of tortes since the closing of Eclair Bakery on the Upper West Side. Dunkin’ Donuts crullers are no substitute for the Linzer Tortes and Dobos Tortes Eclair was famous for. There are fewer and fewer bakeries with a real European tradition, a decline that began when post-war emigration from the major torte-producing countries ebbed. Even the gourmet bread and pastry shops that sprang up to dot Manhattan following the nadir of good bread production in the late ’70s have not been able to reproduce the exquisite taste and texture (I loathe the term “mouth feel”, an expression suited only to marketeers and food engineers who haven’t a clue about quality) of the Viennese or French pastries.
    A law mandating standards in torte production would serve us well. It would be like the German “Reinheitsgebot”, which mandates purity in beer production and has preserved the excellent quality of German beers in an age of shoddy, cost cutting, shelf-life-is-more-important-than -flavor products. Licensing of torte makers, after thorough training by expert European bakers, is a must. Importing Swiss pastry chefs to stem our culinary brain-drain should take precedence over importing Swiss engineers. After all, which would you rather have: a domestic cuckoo clock industry or a dessert that glorifies the meal it finishes?
    National Torte Reform by Gert Innsry

  25. Capital A

    Even though you momentarily beguiled me with your sporte, I’ll spare you the wrath of a well-served retorte!

  26. Herb

    The thesaurus in Word 2003 has “biting,” “nasty,” “sharp,” and “unkind” as synonyms for “tart.” And though I like key-lime and lemon pie tart, I’ll continue to try and nudge towards some “tart” reform on this blog.
    Which reminds me of the time in Germany when we were discussing the new tax rules for personal use of business vehicles with colleagues (as usual in a mixture of English and German), and one of them sighed, “looks like we’re going to have to write down every Fahrt (drive)in the book.” The Americans among us needed a few minutes to pick ourselves up off the floor.

  27. Lee

    The Sunday editorial and opinion column switched to a new Big Lie: that the huge tax increase on cigarettes in the national settlement was to pay for past illnesses, not future ones.
    Yet editorials and news articles at the time of the settlement claimed that the money was to pay for treatments for all smoker-related illnesses, 20 years into the future.
    Then Governor Hodges and the legislature sold the 20-year annunity for a deep discount in order to divert the money from its touted purpose and into vote-buying pay raises for teachers and other government employees.
    The current cigarette tax campaign is another pack of lies, using the children as pawns in a scheme to grab more money for junk programs.

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