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Monday, January 3, 2011 - 8:00pm

Trauma Vote Could Propel Tobacco Tax

In November, voters decided they didn't want to increase car tag fees to pay for a statewide trauma network.

Now, some business groups are urging lawmakers to consider other ideas to pay for it.

One perennial new revenue source idea still doesn't seem to have much political traction.

Lawmakers in each of the past three legislative sessions have tried to raise the tobacco tax without success.

This year, though, because of the trauma care vote, lawmakers expect a new push for the tax.

Tripp Tolleson of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce says, Georgia has a relatively low tobacco tax compared with neighboring states.

"So we think it's appropriate that if the legislature decides to raise the tobacco tax that that money be appropriately applied to health care programs like trauma and Medicaid reimbursement," Tolleson says.

Business groups lobbied heavily for an increased car tag fee to fund trauma care.

A spokeswoman for Governor-elect Nathan Deal says, he does not support tax increases.

The spokeswoman, however, would not say whether Deal would support, specifically, raising the tobacco tax.