On May 29, Senator Syverson opposed legislation increasing cigarette taxes, a move he warned would harm Illinois border communities by driving consumers to neighboring states to buy their tobacco products.
Under Senate Bill 2194, Illinois cigarette taxes would jump by $10 a carton, to more than $20.00 when the sales tax is included, and making Illinois taxes on the product among the highest in the nation.
“As a non-smoker, I have no personal love for cigarettes,” Syverson said. “However by increasing cigarette taxes by such a massive amount, you will see a dramatic migration of smokers to surrounding states. This means lost businesses and lower revenues for Illinois counties, especially ones on the border like Winnebago and Boone.”
The cigarette tax hike would be especially dramatic when compared to those in neighboring states. Under the measure, Illinois cigarette taxes would jump to $19.80 a carton, far more than Missouri ($1.70 a carton), Kentucky ($6 a carton), Indiana ($9.90 a carton) and Iowa ($13.80 a carton).
The only neighboring state’s cigarette tax that would remain higher than Illinois’ would be Wisconsin with a tax of $25.20 a carton. The Dairy State’s high cigarette tax rate has been a windfall for Winnebago County, since thousands of Wisconsin smokers drive from as far as 40 miles to Illinois to purchase their tobacco products weekly. Syverson warned raising Illinois taxes would take that dramatic advantage away and mean the loss of significant sales in Winnebago County, leading to less local tax revenue and jobs.
Syverson also noted that because of Cook County’s $20 a carton tax and Chicago’s $6.80 a carton tax, the total tax in the Windy City would be $46.40 a carton if the legislation is passed – $36 a carton more than neighboring Indiana.
“At those prices, the cost of gasoline becomes irrelevant if you’re seeing a $36 a carton difference,” Syverson said. “You will see significant migration to Indiana to purchase cigarettes, costing Illinois millions in lost sales. This is just one of a number of new fees and tax increases coming from the Democrats this year to feed their spending appetite.”