Lawmaker Jolts Utah With Caffeine Tax Proposal

A conservative Utah lawmaker says that if the state wants to raise its tax on tobacco then it might as well raise taxes on addictive substances like caffeine, too.

Rep. Craig Frank, R-Cedar Hills, has requested that lawmakers study the possibility of taxing caffeine before next year's legislative session.

In a video post on his blog, Frank said the proposal is simply to prove a point that lawmakers shouldn't target certain segments of the population and tax their weaknesses. Utah lawmakers had been considering raising the tax on cigarettes from 69.5 cents a pack to a $1.30 a pack.

Legislative leaders decided against raising the cigarette tax this year, but said it will likely be approved in an upcoming session if the economy doesn't improve.

The proposal comes during the same week that a California lawmaker proposed a $1.50-per-pack cigarette tax increase. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, proposed the hike.

It's a familiar proposal, as the Mercury News reported.

"I'm not saying it's going to be easy," Padilla said at a news conference, where he was joined by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, a key supporter, and anti-smoking advocates including the American Cancer Society and American Lung Association. Still, Padilla added, the recently approved budget "shows where there's a will, there's a way."

California increased its cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack in 1998.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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