Another weekly news conference on a proposed dollar increase in the state’s cigarette tax was held Thursday at the state capitol. The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has been sponsoring a series of events, designed to raise awareness about the tax proposal. Speakers this week talked about the high percentage of people with mental illness who smoke.
Ramona Johnson is CEO of Bridgehaven Mental Health Services in Louisville. “Helping them to break that addiction and stop smoking then gives them some disposable income that they’ve not had before,” said Johnson.
Louisville Senator Julie Raque Adams says advocacy groups are, quote, “keeping the pressure on” to know raising the cigarette tax is an option in dealing with difficult budgetary times. “As we develop the budget, we’ll maybe see something, maybe not. But, there’s a lot of different options that are currently on the table,” noted Raque Adams.
Raque Adams doesn’t believe lack of action on public pension reforms complicates consideration of a cigarette tax. She says pension reform, action on a state budget, and tax changes are separate issues but all should be addressed in the current session.