60-cents-a-pack tax boost on cigarettes supported


POSTED: Thursday, March 25, 2010

In a survey of 500 residents that began statewide in December, 71 percent supported a 60-cent-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax to reduce smoking and the state budget deficit.

This is reported by the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, which sponsored the survey by QMark Research. State legislation is pending to increase the tobacco tax, now $2.60 a pack.

“;Increasing tobacco taxes is a win-win,”; Deborah Zysman, coalition executive director, said in a news release. “;It helps reduce the state's budget shortfall and decreases the number of smokers—ultimately saving lives and millions of dollars in smoking-related health care costs.”;

The coalition estimates a 60-cent increase in the state cigarette tax would raise an additional $12 million annually.

Twenty-five residents surveyed opposed raising the cigarette tax.

But 91 percent said it's important for the state to use some of the tobacco tax money to fund tobacco prevention and smoking cessation programs.

“;When tobacco taxes increase, so does the demand for quit-smoking programs,”; Zysman said, pointing out tobacco prevention and quit-smoking programs provide resources to help those who want to stop.

About 78 percent of survey respondents said other tobacco products should be taxed at the same rate as cigarettes to discourage their use as alternatives.

Smokeless tobacco use has increased among high school students, from 2.8 percent in 2003 to 3.7 percent in 2007, the coalition said.

The coalition includes the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association.