|73 percent of state’s voters favor $1.35 tobacco tax increase|
Tobacco tax would bring in $72.9 million in new revenue, reduce youth smoking.
Faced with a growing budget deficit, a new poll released last week shows that 73 percent of Nebraska voters surveyed support raising the tobacco tax by $1.35 per pack to help fix the state’s finances and fund healthcare programs, including programs to reduce tobacco use among kids.
Support cuts across party lines, with 74 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of independent voters supporting the tobacco tax increase.
The poll is being released by a coalition of public health groups including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Nebraska and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“Now is the time for legislators to listen to the 73 percent of Nebraska voters who want to raise the tobacco tax instead of cutting critical programs. These results show that voters across Nebraska understand raising the tobacco tax is a smart way to protect health care funding and support programs that help smokers quit,” said David Holmquist, Director of Government Relations for the American Cancer Society in Nebraska.
Nebraska voters strongly prefer the tobacco tax over other options for addressing the state’s budget woes.
Out of eight proposals tested, the tobacco tax is the only one favored by a majority of voters polled to help address the budget shortfall.
While more than seven out of 10 favor increasing the tobacco tax for this purpose, a majority opposed other options such as increasing state sales and income taxes, and reducing funding for Medicaid, highway construction, or education.
In addition to supporting raising the tobacco tax, the survey also found among Nebraska voters:
• 75 percent are concerned about tobacco use among young people in the state
• 57 percent are more likely to support a candidate who favors the tobacco tax increase
• 82 percent support taxing all tobacco products at the same rate as cigarettes
Data from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids shows a $1.35 increase in Nebraska’s tobacco tax would raise $72.9 million in new annual revenue.
The tax increase would also prevent 19,500 Nebraska kids from smoking, encourage 10,000 adult smokers to quit, prevent 8,800 smoking-caused deaths and save $436.3 million in long-term tobacco-related health care costs.
Nebraska’s current cigarette tax is 64 cents per pack, which ranks 38th in the nation and is well below the national average of $1.45 per pack.
The survey was conducted by the polling firm Public Opinion Strategies and paid for by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The statewide poll has a random sample of 500 likely Nebraska voters and was conducted December 14-16, 2010, with a margin of error of +/- 4.38 percentage points.