Hello, Oklahoma! This past legislative session you fought with us to pass a $1.50 per pack cigarette fee in Oklahoma, and we won! We regret to share with you that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled lawmakers failed to follow constitutional requirements for revenue-raising measures and tax increases when they passed Senate Bill 845 creating the cigarette fee last session. The $1.50 per pack cigarette fee will NOT be implemented at this time.
We are very concerned that the tobacco industry has once again reached into their deep pockets to thwart policies designed to reduce the use of cigarettes and save the lives of Oklahomans. The fact that the tobacco industry is challenged Senate Bill 845 in state court should come as no surprise. In the 2016 election cycle, tobacco companies spent more than $100 million in four states with proposed tobacco tax increases on the ballot. In 2004, they spent $1.5 million in Oklahoma to defeat a 55-cent-per-pack increase.
Together, we advocated for a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase because cigarettes cloud Oklahoma’s economy with costly burdens: an estimated $1.62 billion in direct medical costs and $2.1 billion in lost productivity annually. A $1.50-per-pack tax increase would generate more than $183 million in annual state revenue that will improve access to health care in Oklahoma and reduce the state’s budget deficit.
We will continue to keep you informed on this issue as a special session may be called to address the court's decision. We will keep fighting to save lives and are thankful you will be with us as a passionate AHA advocate!