A controversial bill moving forward in the Minnesota House would freeze the state’s cigarette tax at $3.04 per pack, eliminating an annual increase keyed to the average retail price of cigarettes. Brian Carr with the Minnesota Retailers Association supports it. He says, “Minnesota now has the seventh-highest cigarette tax rate in the country, and automatic adjustment drives consumer prices up to a level that is simply uncompetitive for our retailers.” Duluth D-F-L Representative Jennifer Schultz says the cigarette tax automatic inflator should stay in place. Schultz says, “We spend a lot of money in the state on health care related to smoking. One of our former governors — Pawlenty — called it a health care user fee.”
A House committee did not vote on the bill but will consider later whether to include it in budget legislation.