Governor Doyle's proposed 75-cent per pack increase in the cigarette tax is drawing fire from tobacco companies.
Bill Phelps, a spokesman for Phillip Morris, says the tax could actually hurt many small businesses across Wisconsin, by prompting them to look at cheaper options for getting cigarettes. Phelps argues that, instead of buying cigarettes at a convenience store, smokers will get them online or at a Native American casino.
Supporters of the tax increase say it will convince more people to quit smoking. Phelps says it may work for some people, but past evidence has shown most smokers will just look for cheaper places to buy cigarettes.
The increase would bring Wisconsin's per pack tax rate to $2.52, which could bring several hundred million dollars in new tax revenue to the state. Phelps says the math doesn't always work out that way though. He points to New Jersey, which raised its tax to $2.57 and actually lost $22 million in revenue after the increase.
Phelps was at the Capitol Thursday, where he was lobbying lawmakers to oppose the increase.