A sizable new tobacco tax increase proposal in Ketchikan, Alaska gained a good bit of traction on Monday night, as the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly voted 4-3 to instruct city staff to draft an ordinance for consideration later this year.
The proposal being considered would impose a new tax on tobacco products at 75% of the wholesale price, while cigarettes would be taxed at $3 per pack. Alaska Public Media reports that the increase would generate $1.2 million in annual revenue, 15% of which would go towards tobacco cessation programs and the rest split between the City of Ketchikan and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.
The financial aspect of the proposal was a point of contention for the assembly as some saw it as a money grab while others saw it as a way to decrease tobacco usage through raising the cost.
Ketchikan is the southeasternmost city in Alaska and has a population of just over 8,200 people, while the borough has approximately 13,500 residents.