Joseph Villers, staff writer
The largest single tax levied on tobacco to date, effective since April 1, or April Fool’s Day, is no joke. The federal excise tax increase will fund an expansion of State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a program begun in 1997, to four million additional children not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. The federal excise tax on filtered cigarettes, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco and snuff climbed 158%, or 62 cents per pack of filtered cigarettes, while the federal excise tax on loose tobacco is now 2,653% higher, at $25 a pound.
In Governer Beverly Perdue’s recent two-year budget proposal for North Carolina through 2011, the state tax on filtered cigarettes will be raised an additional dollar, to $1.35, up dramatically from $0.05 in 2002. Over twenty other states are similarly looking to tobacco as a means to fill budget gaps in the recession.
Smokers at Warren Wilson expressed frustration with the tax increase, while others were supportive.
“It’s a bunch of bullshit. Tax increases are definitely necessary, but it sucks when it effects you directly,” said sophomore Micah Carper.
“I think it’s wonderful, it’s a great way to get people to quit smoking” said junior Marcia Wells.
The Tax Foundation claims an increase in smuggling and black-market activity will result from the new tax, since name-brand cigarettes can be had for as little as $1.25 a pack in low-tax countries around the world.
“I think it encourages crime. I thought about selling it,” said sophomore Joseph Cattell-Gordon.
“Providing coverage to 11 million children is a down payment on my commitment to cover every single American,” said President Obama when signing the bill.