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Poll: Cigarette Tax Hike of $1 is O-K with Us

January 9, 2009

Frankfort, KY – Seventy cents more per pack is fine, $1 more is better. That's what more than two-thirds of voters say in a new poll from Kentucky ACTION on raising the state cigarette tax.

Sheila Schuster, executive director of the Advocacy Action Network, one of the health groups that sponsored the poll, explains that about 70 percent of Kentuckians polled support a tax increase because of the state budget crisis. She adds that tobacco-related illnesses, and what those illnesses cost the state, play a role, too.

"They know that we rank Number One, both in terms of adult smokers and pregnant women who smoke. They've heard the awful numbers about the costs to the health care system."

Sixty-eight percent polled said they support 70 cents more per pack, which is what the Governor is proposing, and 69 percent would support a $1 tax increase.

Kentucky ACTION Director Paul Kiser says, even though public support to raise the cigarette tax is strong, that doesn't automatically mean it will happen in Frankfort, where there is traditional support for the tobacco industry.

"Everybody wants it. It's going to help revenue. It's going to help health. Why aren't we doing this? Well, the challenges we face are strictly political."

Some who don't support the idea say any type of tax increase is bad policy, and raising the cigarette tax unfairly targets people addicted to tobacco products. The poll included the provision that some of the new revenue generated would be used to help people quit.

The survey was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, Inc., from a random sample of 500 registered likely Kentucky voters and was conducted December 15-16, 2008. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.38 percentage points. Full poll results can be viewed online, at www.kentuckyaction.org.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - KY