BY BUDDY NEVINS
Democratic Coconut Creek State Rep. Jim Waldman is taking on a familiar foe – the cigarette industry.
Waldman wants a new $1 tax on cigarettes to offset the proposed reduction in motor vehicle registration fees.
Jim Waldman at a recent fundraiser at Property Appraiser Lori Parrish’s house.
Five years ago, Waldman pushed through a $1-a-pack increase in cigarette taxes against intense lobbying by the tobacco industry. It was the culmination of a three-year fight that required all of Waldman’s negotiating skills.
He was driven to pass the tax because of the 2001 death of his father Edward Waldman. Edward Waldman died of smoking related cancer at 76 after a long two-pack-a-day habit.
Passing the cigarette tax made Waldman one of the few Broward legislators who have been able to get anything substantial from the Republican Legislature.
It will be interesting to see if lightening can strike twice for Waldman.
Here is the news release from the House Minority Office:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Office of Representative Waldman
Representative Jim Waldman Proposes Legislation To Reduce Teen Smoking and Improve Florida’s Financial Health
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – To save lives and protect children, state Representative Jim Waldman (D-Coconut Creek) has filed House Bill 507 (Surcharge on Cigarettes) that will encourage smoking cessation and improve the state’s financial health.
Florida’s cigarette tax of $1.34 per pack is the 27th lowest in the nation. House Bill 507 would impose an additional $1 surcharge on each pack of cigarettes sold in Florida.
House Bill 507 specifies that funds raised by the surcharge, an estimated $838 million a year, are to be used to offset the costs of a proposed reduction in motor vehicle registration fees. Bipartisan legislation has been filed to rollback automobile registration charges that were imposed by the Legislature four years ago.
In Florida and elsewhere, cigarette price increases have proven an effective strategy to improve public health and reduce youth smoking. In 2009, Representative Waldman successfully championed an increase in the state’s cigarette surcharge. As a result, according to American Cancer Society, there was a 27 percent decline in the number of smokers in Florida, with 500,000 people opting to kick the habit.
“Raising the cigarette tax is good health policy and a proven way to reduce smoking rates among adults and youth,” said Representative Waldman. “My goal is to stop teen smoking. I’m also pleased that House Bill 507 offers the additional benefit of helping Florida address the priorities of education, healthcare and other essential state services.”