Kentucky smokers will soon be paying 50 cents more per pack thanks to a newly passed cigarette tax hike included in the 2018 state budget.
While the increase will hit smokers in their pocketbooks, it isn't enough, health advocates say, to generate the benefits they were seeking.
The 50-cent-per-pack tax increase brings the total tax per pack to $1.10.
The increase fell short of the proposed $1 per pack desired by smoke-free advocates who considered the tax increase a stepping stone to their long-term goal of a statewide comprehensive smoke-free policy.
"The culture of tobacco use in Kentucky is changing as people recognize the health and financial costs of our high smoking rates," said Bonnie Hackbarth, vice president of external affairs for the Foundation for Healthy Kentucky.
"The fact that the legislature passed a cigarette tax increase is evidence of a willingness on the part of elected officials to consider policies that will reduce smoking.
"That said," she continued, "the tax increase was too low to achieve significant health benefits, so we have lots of work to do to help legislators and the public understand the evidence showing that significant tobacco tax increases really do reduce smoking and save lives, but that much less than a $1-per-pack increase will not move us toward that goal."