Ketchikan lawmakers push for island-wide tobacco tax

KETCHIKAN — Ketchikan local government officials are pushing for an island-wide tobacco tax that would include e-cigarettes.

 

The Cooperative Relations Committee, a joint group of the Ketchikan City Council and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly, unanimously voted Friday to work toward an excise tax on all cigarettes and tobacco products, the Ketchikan Daily News reported.

The committee includes City Council Members Dick Coose, Bob Sivertsen and DeAnn Karlson along with Assembly Members Todd Phillips and Bill Rotecki.

The committee directed managers to work out a way for the two governments to cooperate on a tobacco tax.

The committee did not designate an amount for the tax, which would be a per-pack fee on cigarettes and a percentage of total cost applied to tobacco products. The taxes would be paid by distributors, but typically shift to consumers through price increases.

The borough tried to levy a similar tax in 2010. It was estimated then that a $1 per pack and 45 percent tax on other tobacco products would have generated more than $600,000.

The council has been more supportive of a tax than the assembly, which could not pass the tax at its April 6 meeting.

Sivertsen said there was a “growing consensus” among the council to levy the excise tax regardless of what the assembly decides, but noted council members were still “interested in an area wide tax” with the borough’s participation.

Until Friday, the inclusion of e-cigarettes as a tobacco product had been more contested than the tax itself.

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