My Turn: Increasing the NC cigarette tax - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

My Turn: Increasing the NC cigarette tax

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No one wants to pay more taxes.  But the fact is the system we live in and the services we are provided are dependent upon taxation.

People that know me well will tell you it is highly unlikely that I would propose a tax increase.  But that is exactly what I'm going to do, but please hear me out on this.

I'd like to advocate an increase in the North Carolina cigarette tax.  Right now, it's about a buck below the national average.  Some reports estimate North Carolina could bring in nearly $400 million more each year by just getting it on par with our neighboring states.

Maybe they could take some of that money and lower our gasoline tax a little.  That seems to be out of whack in the other direction. 

It could be a good political move also.  There are a whole lot more drivers than there are smokers and those extra votes might help offset the loss of money from the tobacco lobby. 

We keep hearing about tax code reform from the governor and members of the General Assembly.  I've got to believe that raising the cigarette tax should be included in those discussions.

That's my turn. Now it's your turn. To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at yourturn@wect.com.


Emailed comments from viewers:

Have you lost your mind? Lets tax clothing, boat and car sales, cut back on NC spending to sponsor program after program that aren't "needed". Hey, legalize pot, and tax it. there's an idea. Welfare is another area to look at. I bust my hump at Lowes and make ends meet while paying child support and all i can afford is this trailer that isn't suited for a pig. I don't smoke but the tobacco leaf is our cash crop and it seems you big wigs want to always hit our farmers where it hurts. Think about it Mr. If you want to tax the farmers then tax all corporations as well.

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I also am not known for advocating tax increases, although I do think an INCREASE in gas taxes could be beneficial in that it would reduce driving, thereby reducing pollution, and increase revenues in the process.  It would also put some other technologies into the  "possibly financially competitive" category.

But my reason for writing involves the cigarette tax increase that you proposed. While I think tobacco taxes should be raised nationally to pay for the externalized costs of tobacco, raising them in North Carolina would undoubtedly reduce revenues by reducing sales to people from other states. People now buy cigarettes here to smoke elsewhere and they won't do that if the prices are the same here as there. The question is, what would the NET change in revenues be in North Carolina?

Did you consider that in your proposed North Carolina tax increase?

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I would like to commend you on your proposal to increase the cigarette tax here in NC. I think it was very brave of you to propose this in a state that depends heavily on the tobacco industry. I completely agree with you by the way, I think our gas tax is out of control and our lack of cigarette tax only hurts people who struggle with a cigarette addiction.

When my in-laws moved here three years ago, they promised us they would quit smoking cigarettes to better their health, so they could be here in the future for their grandchildren. However, instead of quitting smoking they actually started smoking more because their cigarettes cost almost half of what they did in Baltimore, MD. This has affected their health in negative ways, as well as put a major strain on our relationship. I know if cigarettes cost them more they would smoke less, but this is also the reason why I think the tobacco industry would fight a tax increase to the fullest.

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We definitely need more revenue. Lets start with property taxes on churches, synagogues, and mosques.  Religion is forcing it's way into our politics -- same sex marriage amendment for one example -- they should pay to play.

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 I think that your segment on raising the cigarette tax is NC is cruel and insensitive to people who are terribly addicted to cigarettes. Thank you Big Tobacco.

  I am disabled and in pain most of the time. Medication helps some but smoking also helps dull the pain. I am 60 years old and grew up in a home where everyone smoked heavily. I began smoking at a very early age and was hooked by the time I was 15.

  Smokers have been discriminated against for many years in the work place, restaurants, almost everywhere. People treat us like second class citizens. It is just as bad as racial discrimination used to be.

  I cannot afford the cost of cigarettes under current prices. Living on disability income, I surely cannot afford to pay more. Your idea only promotes further discrimination against smokers and it just is not right.

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I agree with your tax on cigarettes to get more money for our state BUT i think there should also be an added tax to beer and liquor. Smoking hurts the person who is smoking but people are killed by drunk drivers every day. If we are going to tax one bad habit, lets tax the others too.

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