Big Victory for Smokers in Oregon Highlights
Smokers "rang out" 2007 with a key victory against higher cigarette taxes
which drew national media attention and even received praise from President Bush. On November 6, 2007, voters in Oregon defeated by 60% to 40% a ballot proposal
to impose a cigarette tax
increase of 84.5 cents per pack. What's so important about this victory is that non-smokers who wouldn't have
paid the tax increase voted overwhelmingly against it. This speaks volumes about the voters' opinions of big government
and unfair taxation.
This victory, which was called a "big upset" in the media, comes at the
end of a year-long fight in Oregon
where smokers made thousands of phone calls, sent thousands of e-mails and wrote hundreds of letters to state legislators
who placed the measure on the ballot instead of passing it in the regular legislative session. This fight lasted many months
but smokers' hard work paid off.
Additional Highlights of Tax Issues
Illinois - In 2007, smokers in Illinois beat back attempts by legislators and the governor
to impose a 98-cent-per-pack increase in cigarette taxes, which would effectively double the current rate. Calls, e-mails
and letters to legislators in Springfield helped to delay the budget process. The governor
and the legislative leadership remain at odds over a resolution. In fact, Governor Rod Blagojevich has already reinvigorated his push
for a new cigarette tax
increase, this time at 90 cents per pack. MySmokersRights members in Illinois are encouraged to visit the MySmokersRights.com Web site and e-mail your State House members in opposition to the proposed tax. Your immediate participation could make the
difference on this issue.
Michigan - A proposal by the governor toward the end of the legislative
session to raise cigarette taxes by $5 per carton was set aside by legislative leaders in part because smokers like you e-mailed
and called their legislators to say "enough is enough."
In 2007, per-pack cigarette excise taxes were raised by state legislators
in eight states: New Hampshire (28 cents), Tennessee (42 cents), Indiana (44 cents), Connecticut (49 cents) and Delaware (60
Wisconsin and Maryland raised cigarette taxes by $1 per pack. In New Hampshire, Tennessee and Indiana, anti-smoker legislators
initially proposed much higher taxes. But when smokers made numerous calls, wrote e-mail and letters, the final tax
rate was compromised in favor of consumers. In Indiana, for instance, smokers and retailers demonstrated at the state capitol against the cigarette
tax. Smokers in Wisconsin,
were equally committed and worked especially hard. But governors pushed particularly hard in those states, as well as in Tennessee and
to single out smokers to bear the burden of increasing state revenues.
The good news coming out of 2007 was that 42 state legislatures did not
raise cigarette taxes and many did not even bother to hold a vote on new taxes because anti-smokers did not have support from
members. Legislators and their leaders avoided passing new taxes because they heard often over the past year from smokers
who were tired of being constantly taxed . . . and taxed more. During the 2007 legislative session, smokers in many
states made phone calls and wrote e-mails and letters to legislators opposing proposed new taxes. In Maine, a group of business owners
and smokers held a rally at the state capitol to protest any further cigarette taxes -- and it worked. In states with
big populations like New York, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania, as well as many others, cigarette tax
proposals died in the earliest stages of the legislative process. In South Carolina, legislators retained
the lowest cigarette tax in the nation (7 cents per pack) because smokers and others opposed to higher taxes banded together
to beat back a tax vote during the legislative session.
Smoking Restrictions Passed in 2007
In seven states, legislators passed new laws which prohibited public
smoking, often targeting customers in bars, even though underage youth are not permitted in these locations. In two
cases, New Hampshire
smokers fought hard to have "private clubs" exempted from the overall workplace, restaurant and bar smoking bans which passed
this year. Smoking was totally banned in 2007 in restaurants and bars in Maryland, Minnesota, Illinois and Oregon -- though there is a cigar bar exemption in
new law even bans smoking within 15 feet of all public buildings. New Mexico's newly passed ban allows
smoking by employees in workplaces where there are "one or two people working" -- businesses cannot be bars or restaurants.
State licensed bingo parlors and gaming casinos are exempt in New Mexico. In two states, exemptions were removed: Colorado banned
smoking in casinos and Idaho in bowling alleys.
Continue to Spread the Word about MySmokersRights
MySmokersRights promises to continue to keep you informed about issues
affecting adult smokers. If you have friends or family members concerned about smokers' rights, tell them about MySmokersRights.com, encourage them to visit the site and join our organization. The more our membership grows, the better our chances
of defeating unfair smoking bans and taxes across the nation. So, please contact your adult friends and family who smoke,
wherever they may be, and tell them about the successes of MySmokersRights. Together we are making a difference.
As always, remember to use your personal Web page of legislators provided
to you when you signed up with MySmokersRights to contact any and all of your legislators on any issue at any time.
Thank you for using MySmokersRights to protect the rights of adult smokers.
Don't want any more e-mails from us? Remove me from the MySmokersRights mailing list.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
If you want to contact us, please call 1-800-743-6725. You can write us at: Consumer Relations,
P.O. Box 2959, Winston-Salem,