Poll finds voters favor cigarette tax to close budget gap
BATON ROUGE - A new poll of Louisiana voters reveals strong support for raising the state's cigarette tax by $1.25 a pack as part of an effort to end the state's budget crisis.
The poll also finds that 75 percent of voters are more likely to support a candidate who supports a tobacco tax increase, according to state health officials.
“As Louisiana legislators address the state’s dire $1.6 billion budget deficit, these poll findings show that voters have a rather clear message for them: fix the budget, raise tobacco taxes – and raise them by a lot,” said T. Bradley Keith, director of Invest in a Healthy Louisiana, a coalition of health organizations.
A cigarette tax is among the options on the table for closing the budget gap along with spending cuts to Medicaid, higher education, road improvements and the Department of Children and Family Services.
Experts estimate that an additional $1.25 increase in the state’s tobacco tax would save more than 16,000 Louisianians from premature deaths from smoking and keep more than 23,000 kids from ever starting to smoke. An added $1.25 cigarette tax is anticipated to generate of $200 million a year for the state.