Tax hike for cigarettes? What bad habit will they tax next?
[Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, and Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, bear home-district cigars as they debate Thursday. The tax won’t apply to tobacco products made in Florida but sold out of state. AP photo]
The Florida Senate voted unanimously Thursday to raise the state cigarette tax $1 per pack in a historic vote on a bill that two years ago couldn't even get a hearing. The 39-0 vote came despite intense lobbying from Big Tobacco, a stinging letter of disapproval from Republican anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, and opposition from both the governor and House Republicans.
"We think it's a fair and equitable tax," said Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Winter Haven, who heads the Senate budget committee.
Apparently, many tampabay.com readers don't view it as fair or equitable from comments on today's St. Petersburg Times story and those published on It's Your Times. They've got other suggestions for the Florida Legislature:
Marie from Clearwater writes: "Another tax against the poor folk. What about services like lawyers, accountants, lawn services, etc. The people who can afford these can afford the tax. These people are taking care of their own and not the common folk."
"I'd like to see a special tax increase on such luxury items as clothes, shoes and bread," wrote one reader, TaxEm'WhileTheyBreathe from Tampa Bay.
"Yeah stick to the people who light up. Is any other "bad habit" taxed like this. All in the name of needing revenue," writes Chele from Largo.
Katherine from Clearwater proposing a new tax for alcohol. "Alcohol causes a lot more damage than cigarettes! I don't know of any bar fights or accidents caused by cigarettes!"
"This is Ridiculous," says the HoodRat from Tampa. "I don't smoke and don't like to be around smoke but this is unfair to smokers who find it difficult to 'break the habit.' If we don't speak against it now, who will speak when they do this to your habit or my habit?"
On It's Your Times, Brenda Walker of New Port Richey asks why it's okay to make pariahs out of smokers. "So, when you’re done teaching us our lesson and they’ve taxed us until they can’t get more and the numbers don’t add up and it hasn’t gone to the promised program who do you think they will target next?" she asks.
What's your take? Does this tax sound fair and equitable to you?