OKLAHOMA CITY — Tobacco is hardly the most popular industry these days, but even its lobbyists will come out of the shadows to argue against a tax increase.
Lobbyists for tobacco giant Philip Morris have been working the Capitol, telling lawmakers the state should spend $300 million dollars it already raises from tobacco companies and smokers each year toward its ailing health care system, instead of implementing a “massive increase” in taxes.
Oklahoma collected nearly $250 million last year in taxes on smokers, and drew another $87.5 million in its annual payment from tobacco companies, part of a settlement meant to help pay smokers’ health care costs.
Lawmakers are considering a plan to hike the cigarette tax again to $2.53 per pack — a $1.50 increase. A pack of cigarettes in Oklahoma currently costs about $5.71, according to the industry