Congress is "taking new whacks" at the tobacco industry with its proposed 61-cent increase in the federal tobacco tax to pay for the reauthorization and expansion of SCHIP, AP/Long Island Newsday reports. According to AP/Newsday, although the cigarette industry "is quietly working against" the SCHIP bill, "it lacks the clout it once wielded."

To lobby against the tax increase, Philip Morris USA is sponsoring a Web site, mailings and a toll-free number urging individuals to contact their lawmakers and ask them to sustain President Bush's veto. The company's advertising materials state, "Taxing smokers is unfair." Philip Morris has asked tobacco growers, retailers and wholesalers to contact their lawmakers as well, according to spokesperson Bill Phelps.

Despite the efforts, the proposed tax increase "is not an issue" in the SCHIP negotiations, according to Democratic and Republican leaders, and "both houses have signaled a willingness to raise the cigarette tax if other provisions of a children's health bill can be resolved," according to AP/Newsday.

Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said that the tobacco industry "has tried to do things more quietly, largely because they obviously know how popular a tobacco tax is" (Babington, AP/Long Island Newsday, 11/10).

Reprinted with kind permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation© 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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