| Dems push to extend deadline for new cigarette tax article The Hill | A Senate bill that would extend the deadline for states to enact new cigarette taxes is expected to face a fight from Democrats who want to give states time to implement them, and they will seek to make sure it includes more revenue from higher taxes on tobacco.
The measure would give states five years to implement a tax on tobacco, after which the revenue would be collected, and Congress would then decide whether to extend the tax for another five years.
The bill also includes a new excise tax on cigarettes, a measure that was passed in 2014.
Democrats have vowed to oppose the extension of the deadline, arguing that it will hurt the health of the country and will have negative consequences for families.
The Senate Finance Committee is expected Tuesday to send the bill to the full Senate for a vote.
The measure was originally scheduled for a markup, but it was delayed in part due to concerns about the proposed excise tax.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who is sponsoring the bill, said he’s concerned that the extension will allow states to continue to make bad decisions with regard to cigarette taxes.
“If the bill is extended, there’s a chance that states could continue to roll out their regressive policies in ways that have negative effects on our children and our communities, including higher rates of smoking and increased rates of obesity and heart disease,” he said.
“It’s time for Congress to stop giving the states a free pass.”
Sen. Patty Murray, D, Wash., said in a statement, “It is my hope that this extension will enable states to make smart decisions with respect to their tobacco tax, and allow us to ensure that we protect the health and safety of our children.”
Murray said she is concerned that “these regressive cigarette taxes will lead to a rise in the costs of prescription drugs, higher health care costs, and additional health care coverage costs for families in the United States.”
Senators from both parties have been pushing for this legislation for years.
Sen. Patty Toomey, R-Pa.
said in an interview with The Hill on Monday that she hopes the bill will be extended.
“It’s really important for us to get this done.
It’s really vital for our economy and for our families to be able to smoke less,” Toomeysaid.”
I’m hopeful we will get it done,” she added.
Democrats also want to ensure the bill includes more than just the excise tax, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.-N.Y., asking, “How do you fund the rest of the bill without imposing additional taxes on hardworking middle class families?”
“The bill should include other revenue streams as well, including other tobacco taxes and new taxes on the high-cost, high-risk products that are driving the epidemic,” Schumer said in the statement.
Senate Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., said she was “appalled” that the Senate Finance bill includes a cigarette tax.
“We should not be raising taxes on families to fund the opioid crisis, the pandemic or the tobacco tax,” Pelosi said.
Democrats are also pushing to give state health departments the ability to set new smoking limits, and to allow local governments to opt out of enforcing those limits.