Attached, please find a press release ready for publication on the recent voter poll that evidences voter support for a $1 increase in the cigarette tax.
Derek Durbin, Director
Tobacco-Free NH Coalition
Poll: New Hampshire Voters Support Significant
Increases to Tobacco Tax
(Concord, NH) Several leading tobacco advocacy organizations today released a poll showing that 70% of New Hampshire voters support increasing the state cigarette tax by $1.00 and dedicating a portion of those funds to tobacco programming. The University of New Hampshire Survey Center conducted a poll of 410 voters in New Hampshire to learn about attitudes on tobacco issues in New Hampshire and it found solid support for increases in the tobacco tax, beyond just cigarettes. According to the poll, 85% of voters support establishing a tax on cigars and raising the tax on smokeless tobacco so that all tobacco products are taxed at the same rate.
“This poll shows that New Hampshire voters solidly support increasing the cigarette tax by $1.00 and dedicating a portion to be used to prevent tobacco use,” said Dr. Andrew Smith, Director of the UNH Survey Center.
“The poll is good information for policymakers, but comes as no surprise. New Hampshire voters understand that we must address the tobacco burden on our state if we are ever going to reign in the costs of health care,” stated Representative Jim Pilliod, a cosponsor of legislation to raise the cigarette tax $1.00 and dedicate funding to tobacco programming.” The legislation, HB 638, has a public hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, February 19 at 11:00am in the Legislative Office Building, Room 202.
New Hampshire’s cigarette tax is the lowest in the region at $1.33 a pack. Raising cigarette taxes has been proven to be one of the most effective policies to discourage youth from smoking.
“Young people are particularly sensitive to the cost of tobacco products, so when we raise the tax substantially, fewer kids will start smoking, and fewer kids will get hooked. For many young people, higher prices could make a difference between addiction and a life free of tobacco-related disease," stated Nancy Pederzini, American Heart Association.
"At a time when the state is looking to re-evaluate how to better serve the citizens of New Hampshire, investing in tobacco prevention will help us make the change to preventing disease rather than just paying for treatment. Clearly, the voters of New Hampshire know a good deal when they see one,” said Peter Ames, director of government relations and advocacy for the American Cancer Society.
New Hampshire currently receives over $230 million annually from the cigarette tax and Master Settlement Agreement, but ironically, none of that tobacco-related revenue is spent to keep kids from smoking or to help smokers who want to quit. New Hampshire allocated $4 million for tobacco prevention programming in the previous budget under the New Hampshire Cancer Plan, but those funds were eliminated by Governor Lynch in 2008. New Hampshire ranks dead last among all states in its funding provided to tobacco prevention.
Organizations supporting the tax increase and tobacco prevention funding include the American Lung Association, March of Dimes, NH Public Health Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.