Poll shows wide support for tobacco tax hike

Posted February 21, 2011

(UPDATED with response from Perdue, below.)

Looks like Governor Bev Perdue may have missed an easy target last week.  Her budget proposal did not raise the tax on cigarettes. A new poll out today from the North Carolina Alliance for Health shows 2 out of 3 likely voters would support a dollar-per-pack increase.

The Alliance is a group of organizations that promote tobacco and obesity prevention policy. Executive Director Pam Seamans says the poll was commissioned because “We knew there would be a lot of debate about how to close the budget gap. We felt that the cigarette tax should be part of that debate.”

Anti-tobacco groups say raising the price of cigarettes is the most effective way to cut down on the number of young people who start smoking. Seamans says at 45 cents a pack, North Carolina’s tax on cigarettes is the 7th lowest in the country. Raising the tax to $1.45 “would be the national average. This is not an unreasonable amount.”

Seamans says a dollar-per-pack hike would also generate serious revenue for state coffers -- $338 million, according an estimate by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. And raising the tax on cigars, pouches, and other forms of tobacco by a similar margin could yield an additional $50 million.

Seamans said the poll shows a cigarette tax increase would have widespread voter backing, even from self-identified conservatives. “We specifically asked if they would support a one-dollar increase. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of support. I think North Carolina voters understand this is a viable tax increase on a product that is not taxed as highly here as in other parts of the country.”

Governor Perdue included a dollar-per-pack cigarette tax increase in her 2009 budget proposal, when the state’s budget gap was half the size of this year’s. Lawmakers eventually approved a ten-cent increase in their final budget. 

Perdue’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment on the new poll. To see the full release, click here (PDF).

Update: Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson responded via email: "It didn’t seem like the year to impose a tax that could negatively impact North Carolina farmers particularly, and [the governor] was able to protect teachers and teaching assistants using the partial penny sales tax alone." 


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  • Bob3425 Feb 22, 2011

    "Sure would be nice if politicians would WORK and GET THINGS DONE" we should live so long to see that day. politicians that actully do something for the people and new concept.

  • fxstbharley2008 Feb 22, 2011

    Jack it up $2.00 more - Why is NC tax so low?
    If you don't like it - Stop Smoking

  • mrual Feb 21, 2011

    welcome too North Carolina where they Tax you too death

  • ykm Feb 21, 2011

    Another propoganda article. North Carolina Alliance for health is now a special intrest group. No different than any other. Attempting to persuade government to write legislation that follows a special interest agenda. Well guess ya can't believe anything the North Carolina Alliance for health says anymore. Seems taxes are at the top of the agenda instead of health.

  • driverkid3 Feb 21, 2011

    These greedy people will stop at nothing to grab money from us. Why don't they double the price of booze? Is it because the powers that be in Raleigh are fond of it and don't want it touched? KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF MY POCKETS!

  • josephlawrence43 Feb 21, 2011

    go ahead and tax it--you're not far from taxing it out of existance, then where will you get the money to replace it???

  • punzelda Feb 21, 2011

    This is an excellent example of how ineffective our two-party, bill-writing government system is. It's a good idea to increase cigarette taxes and the majority of constituents support it. Why can't this law be passed on its own rather than as part of the budget bill? I support simplicity and visibility in law making at the local, state, and national levels. Instead of making ridiculously long documents to hide money they're giving to pork, banks, and oil companies, how about a simple yes or no vote on each issue, majority rules and gavel drops? Sure would be nice if politicians would WORK and GET THINGS DONE.