Report:: $1 cigarette tax increase would raise $28 million for N.D.A national poll finds voters prefer a tobacco tax to other tax increases and budget cuts.
By: Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald
Raising North Dakota’s cigarette tax by $1 per pack would bring in $28 million in new annual revenue and bring the state’s low cigarette tax to the national average, which will reduce smoking and save lives, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.
North Dakota’s existing cigarette tax is 44 cents per pack, which ranks 45th in the nation, according to a coalition news release. The national average is $1.34 per pack.
North Dakota’s neighbors have much higher cigarette tax rates of $1.70 per pack in Montana, $1.53 in South Dakota and $1.56 in Minnesota, the report found.
The report details the revenue and health benefits to each state of a $1 cigarette tax increase. In North Dakota, the report estimates, a $1 cigarette tax increase would also:
_ Prevent 4,900 kids from becoming smokers;
_ Spur 3,200 current adult smokers to quit;
_ Save 2,400 residents from premature, smoking-caused deaths; and
_ Save $116.2 million in health care costs.
"The scientific evidence is clear that increasing cigarette prices is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids," the release stated. "States will achieve even greater revenue and health gains if they also increase tax rates on other tobacco products, such as smokeless tobacco and cigars."
A nationwide poll released along with the report, both paid for by the coalition, found that 67 percent of voters support a $1 tobacco tax increase, with backing from large majorities of Republicans (68 percent), Democrats (70 percent) and Independents (64 percent), according to the release.
Voters far prefer raising the state tobacco tax to other options for addressing state budget deficits, according to the coalition poll. While 60 percent favored increasing the tobacco tax for this purpose, more than 70 percent opposed every other option presented, including higher state income, gasoline and sales taxes and cuts to education, health care, transportation and law enforcement programs, the release said.
The report was released today by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It is titled Tobacco Taxes: A Win-Win-Win for Cash-Strapped States.
Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States. In North Dakota, tobacco use claims 800 lives and costs the state $247 million in health care bills each year, according to coalition statistics. More than 21 percent of the state’s high school students smoke, and 2,500 kids try cigarettes for the first time each year, the report said.
The national survey of 847 registered voters was conducted from January 20-24, 2010, by International Communications Research and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. More information, including the full report, state-specific information and detailed poll results, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org/winwinwin.