Bill Could Add State Tax For Smokers

Lighting up could cost smokers more again. Just months after a city tax increased the cost of cigarettes in Omaha, there's talk of a new tax on the state level.

Seventy-two cents isn't a significant amount of money, but state Sen. Mike Gloor is sponsoring a bill that would add that amount in tax to each pack of cigarettes. The idea is getting mixed reaction.

Will Jones was out Sunday with his friends smoking, but he'd rather not be lighting up. “I've been wanting to quit smoking for like two years now. It's just got such a tie on me that I can't get rid of it."

Sen. Gloor believes it will prevent thousands from starting and continuing to smoke. Anti-smoking groups are on board. “I think it should actually be higher than that, but if we could get a 72-cent increase on a pack of cigarettes, it would cause children to not smoke as much,” said GASP’s Mark Welsch.

The idea has its resistance, too. Many don't believe the government should tell them how to live their lives. Others say even if the bill passes, it won't change anything. “Most people already know they shouldn't be smoking,” said smoker Allison Eggenberg. “They're going to do it either way. If you put like $3 on it, I probably wouldn't smoke anymore."

Sen. Gloor believes the tax would raise millions for the state's health care funds. Jones hopes that will at least benefit those paying the tax. “If it's going to help me out in the long run why not? I'm paying for it now so I can collect from it later."

The proposal is Sen. Gloor's priority bill.

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