Arise’s Kimble Forrister testified before the House’s General Fund budget committee Tuesday, May 5, 2015, about HB 572, which would increase Alabama’s cigarette tax by 25 cents per pack. The committee approved the bill along with several other tax measures. Here’s the full text of Forrister’s prepared remarks:
“Alabama Arise has changed its position on the cigarette tax. We used to oppose it because it was regressive, so an increase would fall heavily on low-income workers. This year, our board (including some former smokers) held a lengthy debate and decided the health benefits outweigh the other concerns. If we increase the cost per pack enough to discourage teens from starting to smoke, and give adults one more reason to quit, fewer children will suffer from secondhand smoke.
“Our concern with this bill is that the increase is only 25 cents a pack. Studies show that you need sticker shock to change behavior. A 10 percent increase in the cost of a pack – about 55 cents in Alabama – would reduce teen smoking by 5 percent to 15 percent. After the federal tax increase in 2009, low-income people paid 12 percent of the increased taxes but gained 46 percent of the improvement in health, measured by mortality.”