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CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Reacts to Cigarette Tax

Natalia Zhigareva, 123rf Stock Photo

The CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has a mixed reaction to the approved cigarette tax increase in Frankfort.

Ben Chandler and other health advocates had been pushing lawmakers to raise the per pack tax on cigarettes by one dollar.

“We think it was a missed opportunity because they’re not going to get the health benefits they would have gotten had they added a dollar on to the tax,” said Chandler, “But, that being said, it is a historic tax increase here in Kentucky on a pack of cigarettes.”

Some legislative leaders said the cigarette tax will likely create a declining revenue stream. Chandler admits it could happen, but that’s also ok.

“They wanted to say it’s not great revenue policy. Well, we don’t submit that it is. We submit that it’s great health policy.”

Proponents of the cigarette tax said the higher price per pack will help reduce smoking across Kentucky. Chandler said the previous largest state tax hike on cigarettes was 30 cents per pack.

Senate President Robert Stivers said this week this is not the end of tax reform. Chandler said if lawmakers up the cigarette tax by another 50 cents next session that would be another step in the right direction.

The entire tax reform package approved by House and Senate members is now before Governor Matt Bevin for his review.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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