74% of Illinois Voters Favor $1 Tobacco Tax Increase to Help Cut State's Budget Deficit
SPRINGFIELD, Ill., April 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new poll released today finds that 74 percent of Illinois voters support raising the tobacco tax by $1 per pack to cut the state's budget deficit and reduce youth tobacco use.
This support comes from a broad-based coalition of voters, including 71 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats, and 68 percent of Independents.
"On Tax Day, this poll shows there is one tax voters do support - the tobacco tax. Regardless of party, voters across Illinois understand raising the tobacco tax is a smart way to cut the deficit and protect our kids from tobacco," said Kevin O'Flaherty, Regional Advocacy Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The survey of 502 registered Illinois voters was released by the Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco (ICAT) and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. ICAT includes the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association of Illinois, the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
"An increase in the state's tobacco tax is first about public health - reducing youth smoking and the lung cancer, heart attacks and other tobacco-related diseases that cost Illinois more than $4.5 billion a year," said Diana Hackbarth, R.N., Ph.D. and Chair, ICAT. "Illinois can't afford any more tobacco-related costs. Raising the tobacco tax brings in revenue and saves lives."
Illinois voters strongly prefer the tobacco tax over other options, such as sales and income taxes, for addressing the state's budget woes. Compared to other proposals tested, the tobacco tax is the only one favored by a majority of voters to help address the budget shortfall. While 70 percent support increasing the tobacco tax to help address the budget deficit, strong majorities opposed other options such as increasing state sales and income taxes, and reducing funding for the state police, health care, education, or highway construction.
The survey also found among Illinois voters:
A recent report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health organizations found that a $1 increase in Illinois' cigarette tax would raise $297.6 million in new annual revenue. Such an increase would also prevent 110,100 Illinois kids from smoking, save 50,300 state residents from premature, smoking-caused deaths and save $2.4 billion in tobacco-related health care costs (for more information, go to www.tobaccofreekids.org/winwinwin).
"As a family physician, I'm proud to support tobacco tax increases. My patients who struggle with tobacco addictions need all the help they can get overcoming this problem," said Dr. Ellen Brull, past president of the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians. "Higher tobacco taxes are a proven strategy in compelling smokers to quit and keeping youth from tobacco use."
Illinois' current cigarette tax is 98 cents per pack, which ranks 32nd in the nation and is well below the national average of $1.40 per pack.
The survey was conducted by the polling firm Fako and Associates, Inc. The statewide poll has a random sample of 502 likely Illinois voters and was conducted April 5 to 7, 2010. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.32 percentage points.
-- 80 percent favor taxing other tobacco products such as cigars and smokeless tobacco at a rate comparable to cigarettes. -- 67 percent support using part of the revenue brought in from the tax to fund programs to keep kids from smoking.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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