Initiative adding 60 cents in tax to every pack of cigarettes approved by Washington voters
SEATTLE (AP) Washington voters approved a measure Tuesday that will add 60 cents to every pack of cigarettes, making the state's tobacco tax the highest in the nation.
The ballot initiative will increase taxes on a pack of cigarettes to $1.42, raising the total cost of a pack to more than $5 in some places beginning Jan. 1. The tax will raise about $135 million a year initially and pay for expanded enrollment in the state's health plan.
"This is a pretty clear sign from voters that expanded access to health care is important to them, and trying to keep kids from smoking is a priority for them," said Nick Federici, government relations director for the American Lung Association in Washington.
State voters also approved an initiative limiting the growth of property taxes to 1 percent a year unless voters specifically approve a higher limit.
The initiative was headed by businessman Tim Eyman, whose previous attempts to reduce taxes in 1999 and last year both passed easily but were later ruled unconstitutional. This year's initiative was much simpler and designed to withstand legal challenges.
The owner of an average $150,000 house would get a property tax break of $23 next year, growing to $126 in 2007, according to the Revenue Department.