Cigarette tax increase passes House Appropriations and Budget Committee

Posted on: 2/15/17


The House Appropriations and Budget Committee gave its approval Monday to a proposal to increase the state’s cigarette tax and dedicate the resulting revenue to health agencies. HB 1841, which increases the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack, is a key legislative priority of the OHA.

The committee substitute for HB 1841, by Chair Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) received a do pass recommendation on a 17 to 10 vote. The committee substitute increases the tax on cigarettes by $1.50 per pack. It requires the revenue resulting from the increase from Sept. 1 to June 30, 2018, to be allocated to health care agencies and requires revenues collected on or after July 1, 2018, to be deposited in the Health Care Revolving Fund. It provides that the revenue will not be used to determine the amount of money to be deposited in certain building bond funds. The bill requires money from the Health Care Revolving Fund be appropriated by the Legislature and be budgeted and expended by eligible agencies on activities eligible to be matched with federal Medicaid dollars or mental health safety net services. It creates a series of funds for each of the entities that will receive a portion of the money.

Craig Jones, OHA president, praised the committee’s action.

“We applaud the House Appropriations and Budget Committee for passing HB 1841. Raising the cigarette tax is essential if we have any hope of saving health care in Oklahoma and is a reasonable solution to help balance the state budget,” Jones said. “The cigarette tax will lower teen smoking rates, prevent mental health services from being slashed and help keep health care services in many communities. The Oklahoma Hospital Association strongly urges lawmakers to put the health of people first and approve the cigarette tax this session.”

Thanks to OHA members who contacted their legislators in advance of the committee vote. Please continue to call your House members and ask them to support HB 1841! At press time, we do not know when the bill will go before the full House, but we will keep you informed. For more information on the cigarette tax, go to www.makeokbetter.org and www.okoha.com/cigarettetax.

It is important to this effort that hospitals communicate the importance of the cigarette tax through their social media accounts! Please share posts by MakeOKBetter on Facebook and Twitter and post information for your followers about the importance of the bill to the health of Oklahomans and to hospitals. Go to www.makeokbetter.org for links to these social media pages.

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