Oklahoma court overturns cigarette fee
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a new $1.50 per-pack state fee on cigarettes, ruling that lawmakers adopted the levy in violation of constitutional rules that dictate how and when revenue-raising measures can be approved.
The decision rejected the state’s claim that the fee — which was expected to raise more than $250 million a year — was designed to protect the public by helping to reduce smoking rates and to compensate the state for the harm done by smoking. Tobacco manufacturers argued the bill’s primary purpose was to raise revenue to operate state government.
The cigarette fee was among several revenue-related bills adopted in the final days of the 2017 legislative session to help close an $878 million hole in the budget to avoid cuts to state agencies and services.
Republican Gov. Mary Fallin said lawmakers will likely have to convene a special legislative session to fund agencies that were designated to receive the bulk of the tobacco fee revenue, including the Department of Human Services, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.