By a vote of 28 to 7, the Arkansas Senate approved today (Feb. 12) the passage of HB 1204 that raises the tax on Cigarettes by 56 cents per pack.
The tax on Cigarettes purchased in Arkansas will equal $1.15 per pack with the new tax. The new tax rate is estimated to generate about $86 million annually, with the money to be used primarily for health care programs like a statewide trauma system, community health centers and a satellite campus in NorthWest Arkansas for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Sens. Ruth Whitaker, R-Cedarville, and Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith, voted against the bill. Sen. Ed Wilkinson, D-Greenwood, voted for the bill.
The tax increase to fund the health care programs was part of Gov. Mike Beebe’s legislative package for the 87th General Assembly.
With both houses of the legislature approving the bill, it now goes to Beebe for his signature.
The highest tax on a pack of Cigarettes is found in Hawaii, where a $2 increase on Sept. 30 boosted that state’s tax to $3.80 per pack. New Jersey comes in second with a $2.575 tax on each pack, and Rhode Island is third with a $2.46 per pack tax.