BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana smokers could be forced to help close a massive state deficit if the Senate approves a bill just passed in the House. With a vote of 75 to 26, the Louisiana House approved the tax hike.
The bill would increase the tax on pack of cigarettes by 22 cents, which would bring the total tax to $1.08 per pack. That is still lower than the tax on a pack of cigarettes in the neighboring states of Arkansas and Texas.
Lawmakers said raising the cigarette tax would bring in an immediate $16 million if the tax goes into effect on April 1.
"This excise tax will in fact encourage people using the product and will also for the state of Louisiana to generate some revenue to offset the cost of this product," said Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, who introduced HB 14.
The tax on a pack of cigarettes was increased by 50 cents at the conclusion of last year's Legislative Session. That tax hike resulted in over $100 million to put toward a $1.8 billion deficit. Health officials say due to record cigarette sales.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.