BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Health advocacy groups see an opportunity with the legislative session to get a long-sought cigarette tax hike in a state that has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the country.
As lawmakers look to raise new money to plug a $1.6 billion budget hole, at least 10 tobacco tax measures have been filed for consideration.
Even Gov. Bobby Jindal has shown a willingness to consider a cigarette tax hike, through a complicated maneuver that would help steer more money to public colleges without a net increase in taxes.
Several health groups have rallied behind a bill by Bogalusa Rep. Harold Ritchie, a Democrat and a pack-a-day smoker, to raise Louisiana’s cigarette tax from 36 cents per pack to $1.54, the national average. It could generate $250 million annually.