Georgia Smokers Pay More In Taxes

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Nobody likes the idea of paying more taxes, but soon, smokers in Georgia may have to, with a new law proposing they cough up an extra dollar for each pack of cigarettes.

"It's too much," said Ruth Nyre, a smoker.

It's no surprise that non-smokers disagree, even going so far as to say the tax should be even more.

"One dollar is not enough. If they are a constant smoker they will pay the dollar or even more," said Betty Lucas, a non-smoker.

Regardless of the amount, for public health advocates here in Columbus, it's a win-win situation.

"Tobacco-caused illnesses cost Georgia $1.8 billion each year, so attacking the very item that contributes to these illnesses is certainly something that would be in public health's favor," said Pamela Fair of the Columbus Health Department.

The benefits don't stop there...

Proponents of the new law say cigarette consumption will decrease by about 6%, while the state will generate about $440 million per year in new tax revenue.

The hitch...local legislators say even though the plan sounds good, it may be hard to pass, especially when it comes to the party politics that take place underneath the Golden Dome.

"The Lt. Governor and Speaker say no new taxes this session, so I don't know how far this proposal will go," said Representative Carolyn Hughley, a democrat from Columbus.

Many residents say it has to be an option, to prevent more cuts to important state agencies.

"Money has to come from somewhere, and it's better for it to be something that's a detriment to our health like cigarettes," said Columbus resident Rashard Jackson.