Help build a better and healthier South Carolina by saying YES! to raising the Cigarette Tax to fund our Medicaid health care programs.
- Over 700,000 South Carolinians, including over 100,000 children, were uninsured in South Carolina before the brunt of the recession hit.
- Smoking costs your household $524 a year in taxes because of health care costs directly attributable to smoking – even if you don’t smoke.
- Nothing works better to reduce youth smoking than raising the price through a tax increase.
- National health care reform will allow large numbers of currently uninsured South Carolinians to access affordable health care through Medicaid. The state will have to match a portion of those new costs.
- South Carolina’s Medicaid program already faces a $359 million shortfall this year, without federal Recovery Funds, which run out next year.
- Although cigarette taxes reduce smoking, revenues from cigarette taxes have proven to be a stable source of funding in states which have raised the tax – adult nicotine addicts will still smoke.
So, it only makes sense to raise the lowest in the nation’s cigarette tax – 7 cents a pack – to the national average – $1.34 per pack. A $1.27 increase to the national average would generate $238.6 million.
Where is the cigarette tax in the General Assembly?
H. 3584 passed the South Carolina House last year. That bill raised the cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack mainly to fund tax credits for premium subsidies for low-income workers in small businesses. National health care reform will make that unnecessary.
The Senate Finance Committee has reported H. 3584 to the Senate floor with an amendment that dedicates all but $5 million of the new revenues to the South Carolina Healthcare Trust Fund. Those funds could be – but don’t have to be – used for Medicaid. Because Senators Bright, Shoopman, Mulvaney, Verdin, Bryant, Ryberg, Grooms and Williams have objected to the Senate taking up the bill, the Senate will have to vote to set the H. 3584 for Special Order before they can vote on it.
The first fight this year is to get the Senate to consider H. 3584. Calls to Senators should emphasize: “Please vote to set the cigarette tax bill for Special Order.” We will later ask you to call your Senator again to urge them to support the cigarette tax for Medicaid.
After the Senate passes H. 3584, it will go back to the House, which can accept the Senate changes, amend them, or reject the changes and ask for a Conference Committee.