Representative Don Van Etten in the RCJ on Tobacco

Representative Don Van Etten responds to former Senator Alan Aker's column in the Rapid City Journal on the Tobacco Tax:
It appears that even former South Dakota senators need additional tobacco-prevention and reduction education. One of the goals of the tobacco tax initiative is to raise more money for that kind of education. It has nothing to do with bashing tobacco companies. The bill is as homegrown as Alan Aker's logging and sawmill company. I should know, because I wrote the bill.

South Dakota's portion of the multi-state tobacco settlement agreement with tobacco manufacturers resulted in projected payments totaling more than $650 million to the state of South Dakota between 2001 and 2025. In lieu of receiving annual payments, the Governor and the 2001 Legislature opted to sell the right to the annual settlement payments in return for an upfront, one-time payment of $275.5 million, which was placed in the Education Enhancement Trust Fund.

This fund was supposed to fund tobacco prevention and reduction education, as well as other types of education. This trust fund had earnings of $15 million for the year ending June 2005. However, not one dime of that interest money has ever been spent for our Tobacco Prevention Program. The governor always includes all the interest in his budget for K-12 education, and we have to try to get some funding from general funds.


The other goal of this tax is to cause teenagers to quit because of the increased price of tobacco. Economic research studies of the past 15 years conclude that every 10 percent increase in the real price of cigarettes will reduce smoking among teens and pregnant women by 7 percent. The tobacco industry itself has stated that increasing tobacco prices is probably the most effective deterrent to tobacco use. We have proved this in the recent past.

In 2003, South Dakota raised its cigarette tax by 20 cents to 53 cents per pack. This was a 5.4 percent increase, and as a result, cigarette consumption declined by 3.5 percent. We did not increase the tax on smokeless tobacco at that time, and as a result, we saw an increase in consumption of 2.9 percent over the same period.

Former Sen. Aker seems to have forgotten that there is very little connection between the legislation passed in South Dakota and the federal government. I don't know what ads he is talking about ,but I would assure you that they have not been produced with money from the South Dakota legislature. The "anti-tobacco crowd" in South Dakota is concerned about our teenagers and not involved in attacking the tobacco companies or their executives.

Read it all here.


Anonymous said…
Maybe if Janklow and the big shots in Pierre hadn't fought for the one-time payout,we'd have more money for tobacco education.
Anonymous said…
Doc's math is way off. If you increase the tax from 33 cents to 53 cents, that's way more than a 5.4 % increase. Better stick to manipulating the HHS committee, Doc.
feasant said…
If you think raising the tax on cigarettes helps anything you are an idiot! What's next for these overly concerned citizens, beer, fireworks, guns, ammunition, roller skates, baseball bats, condoms,cars that are fast, SUVs?

Think twice about this bill, this is just a step in forcing more government on us.

By the way I don't smoke and never have.
Anonymous said…

of course, there are statistics that back up the drop in smoking if you raise taxes, but, you won't pay attention to those because you don't agree with them.

what's worse is, you are already paying a tax on smokers - the cost of healthcare for smokers is dramatically higher, and our hard earned money goes to pay their medical bills.

more government? get real, feasant. do you have any idea of how much government has grown under the Rounds administration. they are marketing our beef, paying to advertise our state, etc.

Of course, there are arguments that those actually improve the economy, and are worthy of our investment. But, that would mean big government can actually get something done, and feasant, I don't think you have much faith in the government.
Anonymous said…
Initiative #2 on the ballot wants to raies the tobacco tax from $.53 to $1.53 that is 3x as much as it is now. The state has over 1,000,000,000 dollars in a surplus trust fund. That is 1 billion dollars. The state just wants to reach into south dakotans pockets even further for more money. It doesn't make sense. I'm voting against the tobacco tax.
lexrex said…
if the tax hike was used solely to raise revenue to pay the health care costs, that's one thing. but the tax code should not be used for social engineering.

if smoking is actually bad for our health, and more specifically if 2nd-hand smoke is bad for others' health, then we should ban it or limit it in other ways.
Anonymous said…
The first $5 million goes to tobacco prevention education, then it's split into thirds (healthcare, property tax relief and education)with about $13-14 million going to each. Every SD tax paying household is paying on average $582 just to pay for someone elses bad choice. If you are a tax payer you are crazy to vote against this initiative.

Raising the price is the most effective way to keep teenagers from ever starting to smoke. Just by raising the tax by $1 we're going to keep close to 12,000 kids from ever starting to smoke. If you are a parent you are crazy to vote against this initiative.

Almost 6,000 adult smokers will be motivated to quit smoking because of raising the tax. If you know a loved one who smokes and want to help them quit here's you chance.

Check out their website and maybe you'll actually learn why the group is leading the initiative.
Anonymous said…
Anon 12:00

Doc's math is correct, raising the tax by 20 cents equals out to a 5.4% price increase on cigarettes. He didn't say it was 5.4% tax increase. Better read the entire article.
Anonymous said…
anon 11:22,

What's this about the state having a 1 billion trust fund? Can you provide a source for that information?
Anonymous said…
Van Etten never met a tax increase he didn't like. Look at his voting record from 2003. The tax man cometh. Tax and spend Doctor. Tax and spend.

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