Capitol Alert

Sacramento lawmaker hits back at Philip Morris, tobacco industry

'I'm Quitting': Impact of California's new $2-a-pack tax hike

As California's new cigarette tax jumps by $2 a pack on April 1, 2017, smokers and store owners say it'll take a hit on sales. For many, it's motivation to finally quit smoking.
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As California's new cigarette tax jumps by $2 a pack on April 1, 2017, smokers and store owners say it'll take a hit on sales. For many, it's motivation to finally quit smoking.

A Sacramento lawmaker wants to ban retailers from offering any sort of discount on tobacco products.

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, said he was motivated to push legislation after recent news reports about Philip Morris offering California customers coupons to offset the new $2 tax increase, which went into effect April 1.

The tobacco giant cited Proposition 56, a state ballot measure voters overwhelmingly approved in November to raise tobacco taxes, in an email blast to customers that explained how to obtain three coupons a week through June.

“California has led the nation in its fight against tobacco by enacting some of the strongest anti-tobacco laws on the books,” McCarty said in a statement. “Sadly, the tobacco industry continues to trick consumers into becoming long-term addicts by artificially lowering the price of tobacco products.”

Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, and its affiliate businesses spent $44.4 million in an unsuccessful bid to kill the state tax increase. Studies show people smoke less when the cost of cigarettes go up.

McCarty’s office said similar legislation has been already been enacted in Berkeley and San Jose, among other cities.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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