Philadelphia public schools have enjoyed an influx of money over the last nine months. The unlikely source: cigarette taxes.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the city’s unorthodox experiment in funding the schools has been successful so far, though it could be short-lived.
Under laws enacted last October, the city raised its rate to $2 a pack, specially earmarked for city schools. According to the state department of revenue, that reportedly has generated $50.2 million for schools in just the last nine months. Estimates show the tax will bring in another $60 million from now through next June.
But officials project a downturn in a few years, with the same tax that is funding the schools expected to deter people from buying cigarette packs in the city -- in turn cutting into the projected revenue.
A pack of Newports in the city now costs $9.50, according to the Inquirer. With cigarette taxes disproportionately affecting low-income residents, many smokers have turned to the suburbs and “loosies” – the illegal sale of single cigarettes for often less than a dollar.
Health officials are also finding that fewer residents are smoking, according to the story. They also say the number of calls to smoking cessation lines has increased by over 100 percent.