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Iowa History Daily: April 11 - Iowa's 1st Sin Tax

Iowa History Daily: On April 11, 1921, Iowa led the way when it levied the first cigarette tax in the United States. Governor Nathan Kendall signed into law the two cent per package tax, representing the first significant 'sin tax' levied by the state of Iowa.

Support driven by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union helped to codify the law, which saw defeat in the Iowa Senate only days before the eventual passing. Governor Kendall commented: “In the disordered state of fiscal affairs at this juncture, with the burdens of government increased and the ability to bear them reduced so material a contribution to the treasury would be especially welcome.”

Some Iowans believed the measure didn’t go far enough, instead hoping the state would enforce a complete ban on tobacco throughout the state. The tax represented a compromise of sorts by creating stiff penalties for selling to minors among other provisions.

The ‘sin tax’ started to rake in cash on July 4, 1921 and racked up impressive revenue for the state. The Dallas County Reporter noted on July 10, 1923: “A total of $1,233,013.63 has been collected since the law went into effect.” The two-cent tax stuck around until 1953, when the legislature agreed to move to three-cents. Steady increases continued over time, and in 2007 it went to $1.36 per pack. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar #IowaOTD


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