tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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Chamber urges Legislature to pursue tax hikes on tobacco

Salt Lake City business leaders want lawmakers to raise fees on tobacco products and gasoline — the former to forestall cuts on education and the latter to get highway users to help cover the spiraling cost of improving and maintaining the state’s roadways.

But other than bumping up those so-called user fees, the Salt Lake Chamber does not favor any increases in sales, income or property taxes, the organization’s board chairman, Jake Boyer, said Wednesday.

As lawmakers prepare to wrestle with a $700 million budget shortfall during the Legislature’s 45-day run that begins Monday, the chamber presented its positions at a news conference, along with the oft-repeated mantra that government should be run like a business.

Business leaders probably will see their general-tax wishes honored. Many lawmakers face re-election and typically won’t raise taxes before November balloting.

The political fallout aside, such increases “would lead to more layoffs and more out-of-business signs,” said Boyer, president of the development firm The Boyer Co.

But tobacco and gasoline taxes are fair game, the chamber said, even though lawmakers traditionally have resisted boosting fees on those products. The last time state fuel taxes were raised was in 1995, in advance of the $1.59 billion remake of Interstate 15 through the Salt Lake Valley. That bump was 5 cents a gallon. Now, the state is ready to launch a similar remake of a section of the freeway through Utah County that is expected to cost more than $2 billion.

This time, as in 1995, Utah’s largest trucking association does not oppose another fuel-tax increase, but it is concerned about the amount. At a proposed 10 cents a gallon, it could raise $100 million a year for state government and $20 million for local governments.

“We’re definitely OK with [an increase], but 10 cents is quite a bump, unless it is phased in over time,” said David Creer, executive director of the Utah Trucking Association. “It’s in our best interests for the state to have good highway infrastructure.”

Chris Redgrave, a past chair of the Chamber board, pointed out in her comments to reporters that transportation investments “lower business costs and improve quality of life” for residents. “It is right that today’s [highway] users foot the bill.”

As far as tobacco is concerned, Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie is at a loss to explain why lawmakers have not acted on that idea. He pointed to a statewide survey conducted last year that showed 80 percent of Utahns favor such an increase. On top of that, the LDS Church eschews tobacco use among its members, and most Utah lawmakers belong to that faith.

“It does not make sense for them [lawmakers] not to raise tobacco taxes,” said Beattie. “The citizens have spoken that they don’t look at it as a tax increase.”

Asked after the news conference whether he thought pressure and contributions from tobacco lobbyists were keeping lawmakers mum, Beattie, a former Senate president who retired in 2000, said: “Absolutely not. In their minds’s eye, I think they view all user fees as a tax increase, and, from what I understand, they haven’t even begun to discuss the possibility” prior to next week’s legislative kickoff.

The Salt Lake Tribune has reported that big tobacco companies contributed $67,000 in 2009 to more than a third of legislators, other office holders and some political action committees.
By John Keahey
The Salt Lake Tribune

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