- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly has voted to indefinitely postpone a proposed tobacco tax.

The Assembly voted 4-3 Monday against the proposed ordinance, which would have levied a $3-per-pack tax on cigarettes and a 75-percent wholesale tax on other tobacco products including e-cigarettes, according to the Ketchikan Daily News (https://bit.ly/1hnQRPh ).

Assembly Member Todd Phillips, who had previously voted in favor of the tax, was the deciding vote.

“Are we really here as a body to tell people what health choices to make?” said Assembly Member Todd Phillips, who had previously voted for the proposal.

He said if they were going to start regulating residents’ health, cigarettes, alcohol and candy should be banned.

The Assembly introduced the tax Aug. 3 with a 4-3 vote in favor, adding a requirement for a popular vote on the tax during the October local election.

Opponents of the tax had argued that it targeted a specific group of people, as opposed to the borough’s property and sales taxes.

Assembly Member Bill Rotecki said the benefits of keeping Ketchikan youth away from cigarettes was worth picking on smokers.)

“This is an action for the future, and the burden falls on the people of today,” Rotecki said, adding that smokers “get hit, and hopefully the kids get the benefit of that.”

The borough initially proposed a tobacco tax in 2010, but it was also indefinitely postponed after public comment.


Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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