Governor Chet Culver signed into law Thursday a bill raising the tax on cigarettes by a dollar a pack. Culver called it "meaningful that so many have come from so far." Governor Culver promised that with the new revenue, more children and their parents will get health insurance, and there will be new help for smokers who want to quit.
He thanked the 92 lawmakers who voted for the bill. Lobbying groups from the American Heart Association to the AARP pushed for the dollar a pack increase in the cigarette tax, and many were on hand to celebrate.
Sandra Quilty is with the American Cancer Society and calls it a very exciting day, saying it’s been a long time coming. She says they worked on the tobacco-tax proposal for five years. Quilty said the change of leadership in the legislature made the legislation possible.
Quilty calls it "one of the hardest battles, one of the biggest challenges," but also a critical and rewarding accomplishment. Quilty says the advocates got 95-percent of what they wanted with the tobacco tax hike. "Iowans should be proud for voicing voicing their opinions to their legislators. Their constituents are what made this happen." Taxes on other tobacco products also will change, some going up, and some down.