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:
Read it all here.
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.