It's doubtful Kentucky will see an increased cigarette tax this year, but anti-smoking proponents say they're encouraged the idea is gaining ground.
Health professionals and educators from around the state gathered Tuesday at a public hearing on a House bill to raise the state tax. They support the bill because they say it would reduce smoking rates, generate revenue for the state and decrease health problems caused by smoking.
Currently, Kentucky has the second lowest cigarette tax in the country at 3 cents per pack. House Bill 205 proposes raising the tax to 44 cents. In addition, the bill would impose a 32-cent tax on smokeless or "spit" tobacco, which Kentucky does not tax.
Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a Louisville Democrat, said she considered Tuesday's hearing a success despite being told that raising the cigarette tax likely would not pass this session.
"I think we made some good head way," said Marzian, who co-sponsored the HB 205 along with Rep. John Daud, a Crestview Republican.
For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.