Senator Howie C. Morales (D-Silver City) has targeted the Land of Enchantment’s smokers. His SB 77 raises the per-pack price of cigarettes by a full dollar. (The revenue would be dedicated, of course, to “early childhood education.”)
At $1.66, New Mexico’s current cigarette-tax rate is already above the national average, and higher than those imposed by our neighbors in Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. (It’s close to Utah’s, and lighter than Arizona’s.) As the Mackinac Center reported last year, cigarette smuggling is a serious issue in the state.
The chart below shows that smuggling, as well as a falling population and the shift toward vaping, are contributing to stagnant revenue from the state’s tobacco tax:
Terrified that legislators will have less revenue to spend this session, on Monday, Sen. John Arthur Smith (D-Deming) advised his colleagues: “Go find money.” Morales is listening. You’ve been warned, smokers.