Received this e-mail from one of the folks working against the tide to raise the cigarette tax:
This Sunday, July 1 marks the 30th anniversary since South Carolina’s last cigarette tax increase. (July 1, 1977)
The South Carolina Tobacco Collaborative is very appreciative of the editorial support that The State has lent to this issue for many years, and particularly this year. I know that John O’Connor is already working on a story about the cigarette tax to run this Sunday, and I’d like to ask you to consider writing an editorial to accompany that article and to highlight this unfortunate anniversary. Obviously, we had hoped that we could get this legislation passed before the July 1 date, but we are certainly thankful to be closer to an increase than we have been in 30 years.
As you know, the SC Tobacco Collaborative and our member organizations (American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, South Carolina Cancer Alliance, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, etc) strongly support an increase that would bring our state’s cigarette tax to the national average. When we started this legislative session, the national average had just reached $1.02. While our legislature was in session, four other states passed cigarette tax increases, meaning that the national average has climbed to $1.06. We’re not just falling further behind each year that we fail to pass this tax — we are literally falling further behind each month that we fail to pass this tax. Most notably, Tennessee passed a 42-cent tax increase, which will bring their cigarette tax to 62 cents per pack, and increase the southeastern average.
The South Carolina Tobacco Collaborative will continue to build our grassroots support over the next six months. We are greatly optimistic that the Senate will pass this tax very early next session and will do everything we can to keep this issue in front of legislators and the citizens who vote for them.
Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions!
Cigarette Tax Campaign Coordinator
SC Tobacco Collaborative
This message was sent on Thursday, but I’m just reading it at a little before 9 p.m. Friday. Sunday’s page is gone, and I can tell you it contains no editorial on this subject (although I do make a passing reference to it in my Sunday column). I haven’t the slightest idea whether the newsroom will have a story on this or not Sunday. One can only guess about such things. In fact, such outside sources are more likely to know what the newsroom’s doing than I am (by design), but they can’t possibly know for sure.
But I do know this — as the memo says, no action can be taken for another six months. Time enough to write about it between now and then.