Obama Sticking With Cigarette Tax Increase

Proposed 2015 budget would raise per-pack tax by 94 cents

Melissa Vonder Haar, Freelance Writer

Cigarette tax

WASHINGTON -- President Obama released his 2015 budget proposal, again calling for a 94 cents-per-pack increase to cigarette taxes in an effort to expand of pre-kindergarten education. If approved by Congress, the federal excise tax on cigarettes would go from $1.01-per-pack to $1.95-per-pack, with a similar increase applied to other tobacco products, with the estimated $78 billion in tax revenue going to fund early childhood education initiatives over the next 10 years.

It may sound familiar: The president proposed the exact same tax increase and pre-k expansion in 2014’s budget in a move that was largely opposed by Congress.

“There is no chance of a tobacco tax to pass,” U.S. Representative John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, told the Washington Post last summer.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan traveled to several states in an effort to promote the pre-k program and garner support, to no avail.

Despite the failure to pass the tax increase last year, Susan M. Liss, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, voiced her support of the proposal.

“The evidence is clear that increasing the tobacco tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking and other tobacco use, especially among kids,” Liss said in a press release. “Congress should embrace this proposal enthusiastically; it would provide millions of kids with a strong start in life, while helping them live longer, healthier lives free of tobacco addiction.”