Smokers Oppose Kentucky Governor’s Tax Plan

Published May 1, 2004

Reporter Kate Scott of KFVS Channel 12 in Kentucky got an earful from Bluegrass State smokers when she asked how they felt about Governor Ernie Fletcher’s proposed cigarette tax increase.

“I don’t like it,” declared Rodney Myatt of Kevil.

“I think it’s unfair,” Greg Majors of Barlow mourned. “It’s just another dent in your paycheck.”

Scott reported, “Right now, Kentucky’s cigarette tax is the second-lowest in the nation, at just three cents per pack. It’s a price break that draws smokers to Kentucky from neighboring states, especially Illinois, where the tax is nearly a dollar per pack.

“But Governor Fletcher wants to bring the tax in the Bluegrass State up to 29 cents per pack. That would put Kentucky’s cigarette tax higher than both Missouri’s (17 cents) and Tennessee’s (20 cents).”

Some people say the governor’s plan will backfire, making the state lose revenue by sending smokers somewhere else. “A lot of people come here to buy cigarettes in Kentucky because of the low prices. If they raised [taxes], I’d have to try to find another state to buy cigarettes in,” said Majors.

Not all Kentuckians, however, are opposed to the plan.

“It doesn’t really matter to me, because I don’t really smoke,” said Shirley Dykes of LaCenter. “I guess it would to other people that did smoke. But if it would help the state, I would go along with it.”

Showing a keen sense of the politics involved, W.E. Hixon of Arlington declared, “If the state needs the money, I think the cigarette tax is a good place to get it, rather than gasoline. You know, gasoline is going to be high enough already. So I say, lay it on the smokers.”

Just let ’em try, vowed smoker Jason Donelson of Kevil. “If cigarettes are cheaper right over the bridge, I’ll go right over the bridge and buy them. If they’re cheaper five miles down the road, I’ll go five miles down the road,” he said. “And anybody else would be stupid not to.”

John Skorburg is managing editor of Budget & Tax News. His email address is [email protected].