Nutter proposes cigarette tax increase to save schools, lives

May 15, 2013 2:45:01 PM PDT
Mayor Michael Nutter is hoping to save the schools and save a few lives along the way. He's proposing a new $2.00 a pack tax on cigarettes as part of a package deal to raise $95-millon for the schools.

The extra $2.00 a pack is a shocker for smokers.

Enough, to make some of them get serious about quitting.

Mayor Nutter says there're 280,000 of them out there and every year 2,100 of them die from smoking. He says the tax may save lives while raising $45-million for the cash strapped school system.

"We must address this great challenge. Deaths from smoking is the number one cause of death in the city of Philadelphia," Nutter said.

The school district is facing a $300-million budget deficit, after already cutting another $300-million from its operations.

In addition to the tax on cigarettes, Mayor Nutter is also proposing a15 percent liquor by the drink tax. It's currently 10%.

And the mayor is also promising to crack down on tax delinquents.

That's expected to raise another $28-million for the schools.

In all, the proposals will raise $95-million.

It's good news for a new schools superintendent who's been on the hot seat for saving money by closing schools.

"I'm thrilled that [Mayor Nutter] identified a pathway to get there and to allow us to realize the revenue we so desperately need," Superintendent William Hite said.

But, it's not a done deal yet.

The new taxes will have to be approved by the state assembly and city council.

Mayor Nutter says it's time for them to act for the future of the children and the city.

Smokers, on the other hand, say, "take your time".

"[$8.38] is too high," Rob Thornton of South Philadelphia said.

Oddly enough, the city's current tobacco tax does not include cigarettes.

That's about to change if the mayor has his way.