From the Speaker of The Iowa House: Legislative Update

( - promoted by Chris Woods)


Inside the Iowa Legislature, March 16, 2007

By Speaker of the House Pat Murphy


Two days after the House provided bipartisan support to stop kids from smoking and save lives, Governor Culver signed Senate File 128 in the rotunda at the Iowa Capitol. The bill increases the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 36¢ to $1.36 per pack, and from 22 to 50 percent of wholesale price for other tobacco products, up to an extra 50¢ per cigar.  The bill changes the tax on snuff from a percent of price to $1.19 per ounce. 

The legislation, managed in the House by Rep. Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque), was vigorously promoted by the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, Iowa Medical Society and other health advocacy groups.  The benefits of the bill are widespread and had overwhelming support from Iowans. Most importantly, the bill will keep 42,000 kids from picking up the smoking habit in the first place, which is critical since 90% of smokers started before the age of 18.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the state will also have a long-term state-wide health care savings of $867 million, due to decreased tobacco consumption.  I encourage you to go to our website at and check out the county by county breakdown of the number of lives saved and the number of kids prevented from smoking as a result of the bill.  The numbers truly are staggering.

One of the keys to getting the legislation passed was making sure all the additional revenue generated from the tax was dedicated to health care.  The estimated $127 million in new annual revenue will go into a new Health Care Trust Fund.  Senate File 128 limits spending from the trust fund to purposes related to health care, substance abuse treatment, and tobacco use prevention and control.

With passage of Senate File 128, Iowa becomes one of 23 states with a tax of one dollar or more per pack.  Looking at surrounding states, Minnesota and South Dakota have per-pack rates higher than Iowa while the per-pack rates in Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri and Wisconsin are lower. 

State Toll Free Hotline:  If you or someone you know wants to quit or stay tobacco free, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-866-822-2857 for services for the hearing-impaired.  Counselors are available from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week to provide guidance and support on quitting, referrals to local services, information through the mail, and follow-up calls to assist your efforts to quit.



This past week, the Iowa House passed legislation to create a “Generation Iowa Commission,” to identify strategies to attract and retain young adults to the state.  The brainchild behind the bill is Representative Elesha Gayman, a 28-year-old first-term Democrat from Davenport.  Rep. Gayman suggested that the state, with one of the highest percentages of senior citizens in the nation, could be doing more to make itself attractive to young people.  The bill is co-sponsored by several other first-term legislators including Rep. Andrew Wenthe (age 29) of Fayette, Rep. McKinley Bailey (26) of Webster City, and Rep. Tyler Olson (30) of Cedar Rapids.

The fifteen members of the Generation Iowa Commission will be selected from all walks of life: rural, urban, men, women, minorities, and from private, public, and non-profit sectors of employment.  If approved by the Senate and Governor, the Commission will make recommendations to us early next year in time for the 2008 session. 



“The $1 per pack increase will reduce youth smoking by 19 percent, will prevent 6,350 smoking-affected births over 5 years, will entice 20,200 Iowa adult smokers to quit… Additionally, in 5 years the state will save $9 million in health care costs treating smoking-caused heart attack and stroke and $10.8 million treating smoking-related birth and pregnancy complications.”

— Iowa Department of Public Health Interim Director Mary Jones



Pat Murphy is the Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives. He is serving his ninth term representing Dubuque.  Before serving as Speaker, Rep. Murphy spent three years as Democratic Leader and nine years as the top-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.



For more information and news from the Iowa House of Representatives, visit our website at

About the Author(s)

Mark Langgin

  • I like this very much

    The evidence shows raising the price of cigarettes makes people smoke less. That means less cancer, heart disease and other ailments down the road. It means fewer babies will be exposed to chemicals in cigarettes in the womb and in their homes.

    Now if they would just pass a clean elections bill…they could do it on a trial basis, like in New Jersey, if they are afraid to take the plunge.

  • I don't like this.

    The expanded cigarette tax is a regressive tax specifically intended for social engineering.  The first half of that sentence would make republicans proud, and the second half is a stereotype of the Democratic party.

    Banning smoking in public places?  I’m all over that.
    Increasing education? The more the better.
    Telling “rich” people that they can smoke but those poor suckers who can’t afford the tax can’t smoke?  Nope, don’t like it at all.

    Education and restrictions on public smoking were working (with possibly the exception of those inane JEL ads). 

    Social engineering taxes.  First they came for cigarettes and I said nothing because I didn’t smoke.  Then they came for liquor and I said nothing.  Then beer and I got a little grumpy.  Where does it end?  Do we tax ice cream to encourage people to eat less?  Do you know the deaths resulting from milk fat and the heart disease it causes?