Proposed bill would triple state’s tobacco tax

A proposed bill could triple the state's tobacco tax.  Smoking could get much more expensive. A proposed bill has suggested tripling the state's tobacco tax to help curb the habit and raise revenue for Nebraska's budget shortfall.

Miles Johnston owner of Cliff's Smoke Shop in Lincoln says tobacco shops are already the target of high taxes…increasing it more wouldn't be fair.  “Of course I think 65% is outrageous I think 20% is outrageous but they pick on tobacco I don't know whether they're trying to raise money for the state or whether they're trying to prohibit or inhibit smokers,” Johnston said.

Some tobacco groups say if passed, the increase will backfire–resulting in hurt business owners, a loss of jobs, and lower tax revenues overall.  “When I buy a $100 box of cigars $10 of that goes to a federal tax and then I have to pay 20% of that $100 to the state and then when they purchase the product they pay 7% I mean that's a tax on a tax on a tax and I don't care who says it's not it is,” Johnston said.

The proposed bill introduced by Senator Mike Gloor would increase tobacco taxes from 20–65 percent. Gloor say it would raise an estimated 73–million dollars a year and provide a good incentive for people to quit.

“If we can get people to stop smoking now and the best way to do so is to increase the price per pack for cigarettes the state can save dollars over the long term and that's the incentive to do so,” Sen. Gloor said.