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Oklahoma Tobacco Sales Tax Elimination, Question No. 713 (2004)

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State Question No. 713, also known as Legislative Referendum No. 336, appeared on the November 2, 2004 ballot in Oklahoma as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.[1]


Election results

Oklahoma Question No. 713 (2004)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 763,034 53.35%
No667,23946.65%

Election results via: The Oklahoma State Elections Board

Ballot summary

The measure ends sales tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The measure places a new tax on

cigarettes. This tax will be 4 cents per cigarette. The measure places a new tax on other tobacco products. These taxes begin January 1, 2005.

Some monies from the new taxes will be given to state, county, and local government. Some monies from these taxes will be used for various health-related purposes. These purposes include health care, building a cancer center, trauma care, long-distance medical care, substance abuse, breast cancer, and aid to hospitals and ambulance services.

A committee is created to recommend rules regarding tobacco product taxes.

The measure provides penalties for Indian tribes that break tobacco tax compacts.

The measure makes several income tax changes. It makes the highest Method One individual income tax rate 6.65%. It increases the amount of certain retirement benefits not subject to income tax. It allows certain capital gains of an individual to not be subject to income tax.

The measure sets maximum income levels for individuals making claims under the Sales Tax Relief Act.

The measure makes other changes.[2]

Background

Many states have targeted tobacco for tax increases, and in most cases the reasoning behind the increase is to create health services for non-smoking citizens that are affected by tobacco consumers. This amendment is similar to Colorado's Amendment 35, Montana's I-149, and California's Proposition 63 in 2004.

FAQ's

In a variety of ways State Question 713 will generate millions of new dollars from the federal and state government to help pay for a variety of health care programs. Some of SQ 713’s benefits include:

  1. Continuing to provide critical medical care for Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens including the elderly, disabled and children.
  2. Generating $138 million to help pay for health insurance premiums for uninsured working Oklahomans.
  3. Earmarking at least $7 million to build a new state-of-the-art cancer center in Oklahoma.
  4. Providing more than $27 million to keep emergency health care and trauma facilities operating and ambulance services running.
  5. Keeping 28,000 Oklahoma children from smoking.

Oklahoma cigarette tax is a 23¢ per pack tax, ranking the state 42nd in the nation. The national average is 79.2¢ per pack. Oklahoma has not raised the cigarette tax since 1987. More than 30 states have raised their cigarette tax within the last two years. Sixteen states currently have cigarette taxes of $1 or more.

Three bordering states — Kansas, New Mexico and Arkansas — recently approved increases to 79¢, 91¢ and 59¢ per pack. Texas is currently considering a $1 increase.

Lower-income communities in Oklahoma are already suffering disproportionately from smoking-related diseases, disabilities, deaths and costs. Lower-income smokers are actually much more likely to quit smoking due to tax increases than are higher income smokers. Smokers who quit or cutback because of taxes not only avoid cigarette taxes but also save on the amount they previously paid for cigarettes.[3]


Opposition

Most tobacco consumers argue against the last question mentioned above in the FAQ section, because a great percentage of smokers simply do not want to quit using the products, and find it unfair and belittling to assume higher taxes are doing them favors. Using that method to promote the proposed tax increase is nothing more than insulting, and a way to lie to the public to convince them they are doing others good.

See also


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