Legislature(2003 - 2004)
2004-06-22 House JournalFull Journal pdf
2004-06-22 House Journal Page 4449 HB 1001 HOUSE BILL NO. 1001 by the House Rules Committee by request of the Governor, entitled: "An Act relating to taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products, to tax stamps on cigarettes, to forfeiture of cigarettes and of property used in the manufacture, transportation, possession, or sale of unstamped cigarettes, to accounting for and use of part of the proceeds of the additional cigarette tax, and to licenses and licensees under the Cigarette Tax Act; relating to unfair cigarette sales; and providing for an effective date." was read the first time and referred to the Labor & Commerce and Finance Committees. The following fiscal note(s) apply: 1. Fiscal, Dept. of Public Safety 2. Fiscal, Dept. of Revenue The Governor's transmittal letter dated June 21, 2004, follows: "Dear Speaker Kott: Under the authority of article III, section 18 of the Alaska Constitution, I am transmitting a bill that increases the cigarette excise tax by $1.00 a pack and makes other changes in our current statutes. The tax on "other tobacco products" such as smokeless tobacco would be increased from 75 percent to 100 percent of the wholesale cost. Passage of these tax increases is supported by the health benefits alone. Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death, disability, and chronic illness in Alaska. It is public health enemy number one. I want these tax increases to reduce consumption of tobacco products in Alaska. Such a decrease will benefit adult smokers who decide to quit, teenagers and pre-teens who decide to 2004-06-22 House Journal Page 4450 quit or not start smoking, and Alaskans that choose not to smoke but suffer the ill effects of second hand smoke. Current estimates are that passage of the cigarette tax should result in a 15 percent drop in illegal teen smoking. A 15 percent drop in youth smoking rates from current levels translates into 1,800 lives saved from premature death due to tobacco addiction. My hope is that even more Alaska teens decide not to try smoking or break their addiction to cigarettes. Among current adult smokers, 3,500 will quit smoking because of the tax, and of those, 800 will be saved from a smoking-caused death. Smoking among expectant mothers would also be reduced significantly; resulting in 850 babies being spared from exposure to maternal smoking prior to delivery during the next five years. Alaska Natives should particularly benefit from reduced smoking. While smoking rates are declining within the U.S. general population, the rate of smoking is unchanged among Alaska Native adults and, at 44 percent, is almost double that of non-Natives. Currently, 44 percent of Alaska Native high school students smoke almost four times the rate among non-Native students. Lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths, is increasing at an alarming rate among Alaska Natives of both sexes. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is also linked with tobacco use, and kills approximately 120 Alaska Natives each year. In order to ensure we achieve these health benefits, I have included language that earmarks part of the tax revenues for the smoking education, tobacco use prevention, and tobacco control program. At the level I have included, Alaska would become one of five states that fund tobacco cessation programs at or above the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. I have also included a significant increase in the tax on smokeless tobacco. Other forms of tobacco such as chew or cigars also present serious risks to the health of users. For example, smokeless tobacco users may be up to twice as likely as non-users to die from heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions due to increased blood pressure. 2004-06-22 House Journal Page 4451 There is also an important fiscal benefit in this bill. The new revenues generated by the tax increases will help reimburse a portion of the approximately $270 million in annual costs for direct medical expenses and lost productivity attributed to tobacco use in Alaska. The financial burden all Alaskans are stuck with because some Alaskans smoke should be reduced. This bill targets users and asks them to pay a bit more of the costs they impose on all Alaskans. I believe many Alaskans would argue they should not be stuck with any costs for someone else's voluntary choice to use a dangerous product. Given the health impact, cost savings, and revenue to be generated from the proposed tobacco tax, I urge your support for this legislation. Sincerely yours, /s/ Frank H. Murkowski Governor"