Raising taxes won’t raise revenues

Hiking the consumption tax on tobacco by $1.50 a pack will have the unintended effect of decreasing state revenue, according to a state lawmaker.

State Rep. Dustin Roberts said while he supports Gov. Mary Fallin’s intent to decrease smoking and increase state revenue, he thinks it will have the opposite effect.

“Our current consumption tax on tobacco is competitive regionally,” said Roberts, R-Durant. “Increasing it would encourage those of us who live near the borders of other states to simply get our cigarettes across the border or from one of the local tribes. This would hurt small local business revenue. Basically, if we hike up our tax, we will be surrounded by cheaper tobacco.”

Currently, Arkansas’s tax is $1.15, Oklahoma’s tax is $1.03, Kansas’s is $1.29 and Texas’s is $1.41, according to a Tobacco Free Kids fact sheet. Roberts said the governor’s proposed hike would increase Oklahoma’s above these neighboring states.

“I think the governor has been a leader on fighting tobacco and its effects on our the health of Oklahomans, but I think this particular proposal is bad public policy in a budget shortfall year.”