2019-07-04 ne-cigarettetax p1

The Oklahoma tax on a pack of cigarettes increased by a dollar a year ago. Associated Press file

Although people bought fewer cigarettes in Oklahoma in fiscal year 2019, the state collected more than $100 million more than during the previous year thanks to the $1 per-pack cigarette tax that went into effect July 1, 2018.

Oklahomans bought nearly 60 million fewer packs of cigarettes in the last fiscal year, which ended Sunday. That’s about a 25% drop, according to a statement from the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Paula Ross, communications director for the Tax Commission, said in an email that the cigarette tax, which helped contribute to a teacher pay raise, directly led to $133 million in additional tax revenue. It was more than enough to have a net increase in collections year-to-year, despite the drop in sales.

With lower cigarette sales, Christin Kirchendauer, tobacco manager with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said it’s a step in the right direction toward fewer smokers in the state.

Before the tax went into effect, Kirchendauer said, the department analyzed the projected impact of the tax on smoking’s prevalence. Although the numbers can be a bellwether for smoking information in the state, Kirchendauer said the department’s own research using the same data will give greater information at least in the short-term.

“Those chronic conditions we look at, we won’t be able to see that for years down the road,” Kirchendauer said. “We will be able, hopefully, to see a drop in the smoking rates among adults, and we hope to see a decline in youth utilization.

“The best indicator of what’s happening is the consumption data, that tax data.”

Kirchendauer said follow-up research near the end of the summer should give more insight into the tax’s effects on smoking in the state.


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Stetson Payne

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Stetson covers breaking news, general assignment and other stories. He previously worked at the Enterprise-Journal in Mississippi. He is from Broken Arrow and graduated with a journalism degree from Oklahoma State University. Phone: 918-581-8466

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