Now here is one that really takes the cake. As many places across the country in an effort to reduce usage and save on public health costs have raised tobacco taxes, the Texas House of Representatives has once again shown how in tune they are by doing a 180 and going in the other direction. Representative Allan Ritter, R – Nederland authored House Bill 2599, which the House passed passed 83-53 last wednesday, to correct what he says corrects an unfair tax that’s been levied on pouches of loose-leaf tobacco since the Legislature in 2009 created a weight-based tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes and cigars.
Ritter claims this has resulted in loose-leaf tobacco products being unfairly taxed. Ritter further claims that “It destroyed an industry,” and that the bill “brings back fairness” and €œfor all of us that chew tobacco, it’s a damn good thing. He says the price for a pouch of tobacco jumped from about $6.00. Meanwhile, the price of cans of snuff such as Copenhagen, Skoal and Kodiak haven’t increased because they weigh about a third as much as a pouch of loose-leaf tobacco. Ritter claims the industry has said that since the 2009 law went into effect, sales of loose-leaf tobacco plummeted 50 percent.
When Ritter laid out his bill only on House member raised a question. Representative Jason Isaac, R – Dripping Springs, stated “I just had to clarify. It’s cutting taxes to chewing tobacco? We just created an incentive for people to use cancer-causing products. When we have the fiscal problems that we have, it’s wrong to be cutting taxes on products like chewing tobacco.”
When asked by Isaac, if he would could live with the bill leading to more tobacco use in the state, Ritter responded, I’m very happy with that. Texas! Then in true TeaBagger mode Ritter stated “Is this guy sure he’s a Republican? He just supported a tax. He’s a freshman legislator. Somebody’s never getting elected again.”
An official state analysis of the bill says that the tax change would increase consumption of chewing tobacco and that sales “would rebound sufficiently” so that the state’s tax coffers wouldn’t be negatively affected. However Isaac said that the state ultimately would end up worse financially once Ritter’s bill becomes law. More chewers of tobacco would lead to additional long-term health costs as the state ends up dealing with more people with tobacco-related health problems.
With the current TeaBagger mentality of our State Legislators they do not see this as a health issue problem. Thsy see it as a boon to the Health Care Industry. More Oral Cancer = More Money spent with the Medical Industry. A Win-Win. Ahhh, Priorities, Priorities. And oh by the way, Ritter is reported to be an avid RedMan Tobacco chewer.