Indiana convenience stores are trying to block a proposed cigarette tax hike.
House Republicans’ tax proposal was the main focus of attention as a Senate committee conducted the first of seven hearings on a new state budget. The House has proposed raising cigarette taxes by a dollar a pack. The Indiana Grocery and Convenience Store Association warns that would be “devastating” to its members, because Indiana would lose its price advantage over neighboring states.
Chuck Taylor says his Chuckles Convenience Store chain in southwest Indiana saw an 18-percent drop in sales the last time Indiana raised cigarette taxes, 10 years ago. And Circle K predicts it’ll lose three-million dollars a year if the tax passes.
But the Indiana Chamber says smoking drives up business health costs by three-billion dollars a year.
Senate Republicans have been skeptical of the cigarette tax hike, warning you can’t assume it’ll keep bringing the same amount of money. Community Health C-E-O Bryan Mills, who’s leading a health and business coalition pushing for the tax, says the point isn’t the money, but the reduction in the number of smokers. He says that will eventually save Indiana money on Medicaid.