Q. A few years ago the State of Iowa raised the tax on cigarettes $1 a pack. I was wondering how much money they have collected and what programs they are spending it on? -- Dennis, Eldridge, Iowa
A. We contacted the Iowa Department of Revenue and the Iowa Department of Public Health to find out. Amy Rehder Harris, PhD, chief economist and division administrator, research and analysis, Iowa Department of Revenue, responded:
"My team does have information regarding cigarette excise tax revenue collections since the tax increase effective March 16, 2007. However, we do not have any information about how that money has been spent. The Department of Public Health, I believe, oversees the Health Care Trust Fund (HCTF) into which the estimated growth in revenues (and now all receipts) has been deposited, so I recommend you reach out to them to inquire about the uses of the funds.
"By law, the first $106 million collected per fiscal year after the increase was deposited in the HCTF until fiscal year 2014 when all cigarette and tobacco revenues were deposited in that fund. I am not sure what numbers you are seeking; it is possible to estimate the impact on cigarette revenues alone by attributing $1 per pack sold, but what I will provide below are the deposits into the HCTF each fiscal year.
"Therefore for FY 2008-FY 2013, the revenues that were set aside from the cigarette and tobacco increase was $106.02 million with approximately $96 million each year coming from cigarette sales. In FY 2014, total revenues for cigarette and tobacco taxes were $221.8 million ($194.5 million cigarettes); FY 2015 $223.6 million ($194.4 million cigarettes); FY 2016 $227.8 million ($196.8 million cigarettes); and FY 2017 $221.1 million ($188.6 million cigarettes)."
Polly Carver-Kimm, communications director, Iowa Department of Public Health, responded:
"The state of Iowa has, since before the tobacco tax increase, followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention best practices for tobacco control programs. In particular we have followed their four goal areas: Preventing initiation among youth and young adults; promoting quitting among adults and youth; eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke; and identifying and eliminating tobacco-related disparities among population groups.
"The Iowa Department of Public Health Division of Tobacco Use, Prevention and Control has several initiatives to meet these goals. We have run youth prevention programs, promoted cessation with Quitline Iowa, reduced exposure to secondhand smoke by enforcement of the Iowa Smokefree Air Act and worked at the local level through our community partnerships to address all these goal areas at the local level.
"We promote smokefree homes and tobacco-free schools which also fit into the goal areas.
"No specific tobacco tax dollars have ever been earmarked for tobacco prevention."