OKLAHOMA CITY -- Amid national news coverage of Oklahoma teachers striking in protest over salaries, Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law a budget that includes a $1-per-pack increase on cigarette taxes and an equivalent increase on little cigars, according to News On 6.
Prior to the increase, cigarette taxes in the state were $1.03 per pack and $1.20 per 10 little cigars.
Acting on pressure from striking teachers, lawmakers approved a budget in late March that also included raising taxes on little cigars at the same rate as cigarettes, the fuel tax by 3 cents a gallon on gasoline and 6 cents a gallon on diesel, and the gross oil-production tax from 2% to 5% on all wells.
A spokesman for Tulsa, Okla.-based convenience-store retailer QuikTrip called a portion of the new law unfair, focusing on how Native American reservations will benefit from the new tax. In an interview with News On 6, spokesperson Mike Thornbrugh described the new tax as providing a competitive advantage to native tribes that sell product through area tobacco shops.
As an example, the news station reported that under a compact between the state and the Creek Nation, the state gets to keep 45% of the tax, while the tribe gets 55%.
“If somebody has an advantage, we have a problem with it,” Thornbrugh said. “It doesn’t matter to us what the commodity is.”
Thornbrugh said the compacts give tribal retailers the advantage because they can sell cigarettes at a lower cost, considering they will be able to subsidize those sales with tax dollars.