Here’s How A Proposed Tobacco Tax Could Impact South Dakotans

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Just like that, elections are nearly here. There are a number of measures on the ballot this year. There’s one in particular that has many South Dakotans talking.

It’s a hot topic: Iniatiated Measure 25. It’s a proposed increase for the state tobacco tax. if it passes, a 20- pack of cigarettes would now would cost a dollar more per pack.

Here’s how it works.

Currently when you buy tobacco, the first $30 million of tax revenue goes into a general fund. After that, if there’s more tax money collected, the next $5 million dollars ironically go toward an existing tobacco prevention fund.

“After we have the 5 million that’s taken into the already existing trust fund, the next $20 million, or how much ever comes in, would go to the technical institute fund,” said South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.

There are four tech schools in the state. Supporters say this measure could help reduce tuition and incentivize students to continue their education in South Dakota.

“The tech school tuition in South Dakota is the thrid highest in the U.S.,” said South Dakota Legislative Research Council Director Jason Hancock. “The amount of money that we spend on tech schools is the lowest in the seven-state region.”

Supporters also say increased price could mean lower demand, which would discourage young people from getting involved with tobacco.

However, critics of the measure say enough is enough; we don’t need more taxes.

“There’s really nothing to stop the state and the legislature from diverting this money to other uses,” said Hancock.

Other critics say our education dollars are best spent elsewhere.

“It ignores other educational needs such as preschool and K-12,” said Hancock.

Other types of tobacco products are currently taxed by 35 percent. If passed, those would go up to 55 percent.

The last time South Dakota approved a tobacco tax was 2006. The last day to register to vote is October 22nd.

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