Poll: 70 Percent Of Connecticut Voters Support Raising The Tax On Cigarettes

95-cent tax increase would bring in $50 million in new annual state revenue

May 15, 2013, 11:39 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

HARTFORD, Conn., May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new poll released today by a group of Connecticut public health advocates shows 70 percent of voters support a 95-cent increase in the state cigarette tax as a way to prevent kids from smoking and help address the state budget.  

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Representatives from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, Southeastern New England Chapter and the Connecticut Chapter of American Lung Association spoke in Hartford to share the findings and to call on state lawmakers to implement the increase. 

Key findings of the poll:

A strong majority of Connecticut voters support a 95-cent per pack tax increase for cigarettes: 
By an overwhelming margin, (70 percent to 29 percent) Connecticut voters support raising the cigarette tax by 95 cents.  59 percent of those asked strongly support the 95-cent tax hike. 

Raising the cigarette tax is the best way to raise funds for the state budget:
When given a number of potential ways to help eliminate the state budget shortfall, voters strongly favor increasing the state cigarette tax, while opposing all of the other remedies offered.  Nearly seven in ten voters favor an increase in the state cigarette tax as a way to help eliminate the budget shortfall.  No other proposal receives support from a majority of voters.

Residents would rather vote for lawmakers who support raising taxes on cigarettes:
A tax increase on cigarettes in Connecticut is important to voters here, and would impact what candidates they vote for in future elections.  When asked, 60 percent of voters say they would support candidates who support taxes on cigarettes. 

"The answers are loud and clear from Connecticut residents," said Kevin O'Flaherty, Director of Advocacy for the Northeast Division of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, "Voters support raising cigarette taxes. Doing so will prevent kids from smoking and encourage adult smokers to quit."

Every year, smoking costs the state of Connecticut $1.6 billion dollars in smoking-related health care costs. 

Analysts estimate that raising the cigarette tax by 95 cents will bring in an additional 50 million dollars to the state coffers each year. 

"The cost of a pack of cigarettes is a major factor in smoking prevention," said Bryte Johnson, State Director of Government Relations and Advocacy, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.  "Raising taxes is one of the most effective cessation tools available."

In Connecticut, a 95-cent increase in the cigarette tax would prevent more than 11,500 children from becoming smokers and prompt more than 11,000 adults to quit. 

"As a respiratory therapist, I see far too many patients who suffer from tobacco-caused chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a cruel disease that makes it extremely difficult to breathe," said Connie Dill, a volunteer with the American Lung Association in Connecticut. "I know that the more we can do to help people quit smoking and the more we can do to prevent kids from ever starting, the fewer people we will ultimately see who suffer to the point where they need respiratory therapy.  More than 1200 Connecticut residents die each year from tobacco-caused respiratory disease. Raising the tobacco tax will not just save lives, it will improve life quality for many."

In Connecticut, 17.1 percent of adults and 15.9 percent of high school students smoke.  Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers started by 18 years old.

"With such overwhelming support for a cigarette tax increase, lawmakers can make an immediate impact on both the health of Connecticut residents and the financial health of the state," said John Bailey, Director of Advocacy for the American Heart Association Southeastern New England Chapter. 

A 95-cent increase in the cigarette tax would bring Connecticut in line with neighboring states like New York.

The Mellman Group conducted a statewide survey of 500 registered voters in Connecticut. The poll was conducted by telephone May 7-9, 2013, and used a registration-based sample designed to model the likely 2014 electorate. The survey included both landline and cellular phones. The margin of error for this survey is +/-4.4% at the 95% level of confidence. The margin of error is larger for subgroups.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids