Minnesota lawmakers will make their case Thursday for adding a big tax increase to cigarettes. The House Tax Committee will hear H.F. 91, a bill to increase the cigarette excise tax by $1.60 per pack and repeal the currently imposed health impact fee.
Smokers currently pay about $1.25 in taxes for each pack. This bill would raise that to nearly $3.
Currently, Minnesota's cigarette tax rate ranks 28th in the nation. State health officials say upping the tax is projected to decrease youth smoking by 11 percent, keep about 25,000 kids smoke-free and lead 19,000 adults to quit. Officials say that could prevent as many as 13,700 Minnesotans from premature death.
It's estimated that cigarette smoking led to the premature deaths of 5,135 Minnesotans in 2007, accounting for one in every seven deaths overall.
If approved, the cigarette tax hike would go into effect this summer.