A tobacco tax is what stands between Alabama and its ability to serve the needs of its youngest residents. And, those who are advocates for children need to make that known to their legislators.
That was the message today from Sue Bell Cobb, retired chief justice from the Alabama Supreme Court as she criticized those state lawmakers in Alabama who took pledges not to raise taxes without considering the needs of state’s children.
Cobb called for the state’s electorate to become more informed about the difference between federal taxes and Alabama’s taxes.
Alabama has the fifth lowest cigarette tax in the country at 42.5 cents per package.
The average cigarette tax is now $1.46 a pack, up 11 cents since 2010.
The organization Children First is advocating for Alabama’s tax rate to be raised to $1 to $1.42 a pack. The millions of dollars generated would be distributed to the Children First Trust Fund and the General Fund.
Cobb had a message for lawmakers, who were elected in 2010 because of a promise not to raise taxes.
“If you signed a ‘no tax’ pledge you’re basically saying your election and re-election is more important than anything else,” Cobb said.
Cobb’s advocacy for an increase in the tobacco tax capped her morning address to the “Doing What Matters for Alabama’s Children ” Conference, which is underway today at the Bryant Conference Center here on the University of Alabama Campus.
“Whatever we’re doing folks, we’re not doing enough,” Cobb said. “Part of getting it done for kids is just raw, hard core advocacy.”
Most of the hundreds of attendees stood and pledged to contact their representatives in the legislature to advocate for the cigarette tax.