A Utah state senator wants to raise the tobacco tax from 69.5 cents per pack to $2 per pack in order to help address a budget shortfall, and experts say a tax hike is likely to pass, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Oct. 24.
If approved, Sen. Allan Christensen's measure would give Utah — the state with the nation's lowest smoking rates — the 11th-highest cigarette tax in the U.S.
Supporters hope higher prices will motivate even more smokers to quit and discourage youths from starting.
The measure also would raise an estimated $76 million annually for the state treasury; Utah's budget deficit could top $850 million.
However, Gov. Gary Herbert has not endorsed any tax increases in his budget, some Republicans are opposing the increase because of the poor economy, and the tobacco industry and retailers also are against the tobacco tax hike.