S.D. Organizations Petition to Raise Tobacco Taxes

Tax on pack of cigarettes would increase from 53 cents to $1.53

ABERDEEN, S.D. -- Three groups are collecting petition signatures to put higher tobacco taxes on South Dakota's 2006 general election ballot. If voters approve, the tax on a pack of cigarettes would increase from the current 53 cents to $1.53, reported the Associated Press.

The organizations circulating petitions are South Dakota Healthy Living, the American Cancer Society and the South Dakota Tobacco-Free Kids Network.

The groups need 16,728 signatures by May 2 to get the question on the November 2006 ballot. The American Cancer [image-nocss] Society said about 9,000 signatures already have been gathered.

The tax increase would discourage young people from starting to use tobacco, supporters said. Also, polling shows higher taxes will hinder adults from continuing to use tobacco products.

The state legislature has rejected recent attempts to raise tobacco taxes, saying there is no need for any tax increases.

South Dakota Healthy Living says the tobacco tax increase would help the state by providing $30 million to the general fund, $5 million a year to the state Health Department's tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and provide money to health care, education and property tax reduction fund.

Also, under the proposal, the tax on other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco would increase from 10% of the wholesale price to 35% of the wholesale price.

If voters approve, the tobacco tax increase would take effect Jan. 1, 2007.