Tennessee Voters Support a Cigarette Tax Increase by a Two to One Margin
NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 9, 2002--A new poll shows Tennessee voters, by a margin of two to one, want their legislators to increase the cigarette tax--a measure that would reduce the smoking rate while raising revenue.
The survey of 650 registered Tennessee voters was released today by the Campaign for a Healthy and Responsible Tennessee (CHART), a grassroots coalition that supports increasing the cigarette tax as a way to reduce smoking and save lives in Tennessee.
"Increasing the cigarette tax discourages teens from becoming addicted to tobacco," said Marianne Bouldin, CHART executive director. "Other states have seen significant declines in the teen smoking rate following a cigarette tax increase; it's time that Tennessee followed this positive trend."
According to the survey, nearly two out of three voters in Tennessee (65.4 percent) say the legislature should increase the cigarette tax. Tennessee's state fiscal review office estimated that raising the cigarette tax by 30 cents, just below the national average, will raise $162 million, which a resounding majority of voters (78.3 percent) believe is significant enough to make a difference in this state.
The poll also finds that more than three out of four Tennesseans (77.2 percent) agree with studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show higher cigarette prices will save lives as a result of more smokers deciding to quit and fewer people choosing to begin smoking. Similarly, nearly 70 percent (68.8 percent) of Tennessee voters say that raising the cigarette tax would be an effective way to reduce the teenage smoking rate.
Tennessee currently has the seventh-lowest cigarette tax rate in the nation. The cigarette tax in Tennessee has remained at 13 cents per pack since 1969. The national average is 48 cents per pack of cigarettes, an average that continues to rise as states enact cigarette tax increases.
In Maryland, a 30-cent increase in 1999 resulted in a 30 percent decline in smoking among 10th-graders. A study by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids shows that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes will reduce overall cigarette consumption by 3 to 5 percent and reduce youth smoking by about 7 percent.
"It's clear that citizens across the state know that increasing the cigarette tax is a sensible solution to the problems facing Tennessee," said Chastity Mitchell, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society in Tennessee.
"Tennesseans realize that a higher cigarette tax will save lives by preventing and reducing the number of people who smoke as well as raise much needed revenue for our state. As legislators weigh proposals to address the state's budget problems, raising the cigarette tax should be seriously considered."
The poll results were released today by CHART. The survey was conducted April 10 to April 13, 2002, by The Parker Group of Birmingham, Ala. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
CHART is a cooperative effort of the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and more than 35 other Tennessee health and community organizations. CHART's mission is to improve the quality of life for all Tennesseans by preventing and reducing disease, disability and death caused by tobacco use.