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New Poll: 72 Percent of Minnesotans Support Tobacco Tax Increase
Date:3/11/2009

Support is widespread and strong throughout Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS, March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A new survey released today by ClearWay Minnesota(SM) found that an overwhelming majority (72 percent) of Minnesotans support increasing state tobacco taxes. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said the primary reason for their support is that higher taxes will encourage smokers to quit and prevent kids from becoming smokers, and 35 percent cited increased smoking-related health care costs as their primary reason. The survey was conducted by Minneapolis research firm Decision Resources, Ltd.

"One of the most striking findings of the survey is that people arrive at their support for an increase in the tobacco tax out of a sense of fairness," said Bill Morris, President of Decision Resources. "They understand both that tobacco use costs Minnesotans far more in medical costs than is recovered through current taxes or insurance premiums on smokers. They also recognize that a tobacco tax is an effective tool to encourage people to quit and to stop young people from starting to smoke."

Seventy-seven percent of Minnesotans say that smoking and other tobacco use have a significant impact on the cost everyone pays for health; more than one-third (34 percent) say the impact is very significant. This belief is backed up by scientific fact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Minnesotans pay $8.85 in excess medical costs and lost productivity for every pack of cigarettes smoked.

The survey found strong support for increasing tobacco taxes among all leading demographics, including geography, political and ideological affiliation, income, age and gender. For example, 78 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of Minnesotans who identify as independents support a tax increase.

Support for an increase in the Minnesota state tax has not been diminished by the recently passed 62-cent per pack increase in the federal tax, which goes into effect on March 31, 2009. Forty-six percent of the survey respondents were already aware of the federal increase. Among those who weren't aware of the federal increase, after being informed, 80 percent said either that it made no difference in their opinion or it made them even more likely to support an increase in the state tax.

The survey's finding that Minnesotans believe higher prices are an effective way to reduce smoking, especially among kids, is also backed by research. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by about 7 percent, and reduces overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. Currently, Minnesota's total cigarette taxes and fees are $1.504 per pack, ranking 18th in the nation.

"Raising the price of tobacco products by increasing the tax is a win-win-win for Minnesota," said David Willoughby, Chief Executive Officer of ClearWay Minnesota. "Higher tobacco taxes improve health and reduce health care costs by reducing smoking, raise much needed revenue and are overwhelmingly popular with Minnesotans."

Methodology

The 2009 study contains the results of a survey administered to 800 randomly selected residents across the state of Minnesota. Professional interviewers conducted the survey by telephone between February 17 and 28, 2009. The typical respondent took 11 minutes to complete the questionnaire. The non-response rate was 3.7 percent. The results of the study are projectable to all adult Minnesota residents within +/- 3.5 percent in 95 out of 100 cases.

To view complete survey results, visit www.clearwaymn.org.

ClearWay Minnesota(SM) is an independent, nonprofit organization that improves the health of Minnesotans by reducing the harm caused by tobacco. ClearWay Minnesota serves Minnesota through its grant-making program, through QUITPLAN(R) Services and through statewide outreach activities. It is funded with 3 percent of the state's 1998 tobacco settlement.

For more information on QUITPLAN Services, call 952-767-1400 or visit www.clearwaymn.org.


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SOURCE ClearWay Minnesota
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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