Attorney General Tom Miller says he’s embarrassed that Iowa’s tobacco tax is 10th lowest in the country. “Iowa and Mississippi have the distinction, the disgrace of being the only two non-tobacco states in the bottom ten,” Miller says. “That’s what the legislature has let happen.” Miller is among those pushing lawmakers to raise Iowa’s 36-cent-per-pack cigarette tax, and Miller argues it’s a health issue. Miller says the country is in denial about tobacco products and the deaths smoking causes. Miller says the public wouldn’t put up with it if 12-hundred people died every day from flying in an airplane. “That’s the exact same thing that happens with tobacco every day,” Miller says.
About four-hundred thousand Americans die every year from tobacco-related illnesses. Miller says the state can keep more kids from starting the smoking habit, and get more adults to quit smoking, by raising the price of the product by raising the tobacco tax.
Last April, the 50-member Iowa Senate voted to double the state’s tobacco tax to 72-cents a pack, but House Republican leaders refuse to allow the issue to be debated in the House. Miller says those same legislators are blocking bills that would let cities pass no-smoking ordinances that are stricter than state law.
“Because of what’s happened upstairs in the legislature, Iowa is in the backwater on those issues that prevent loss of life,” Miller says. Miller made his comments this week during an anti-smoking rally at the statehouse.