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Overwhelming Majority of Virginia Voters Favor Increasing the Cigarette Tax to the National Average
Date:2/2/2009

hile the revenue and other benefits dramatically increase with the higher tax."

The survey of 500 registered likely Virginia voters was released today by the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In releasing the poll results, the health advocates declared a large increase in the cigarette tax a win-win-win for Virginia. An increase in the state's cigarette tax is a win for public health because it will reduce smoking, particularly among kids; it's a win for the state's fiscal health because it will raise more than $250 million in new annual revenue for the state; and it's a win for lawmakers who support it because of overwhelming voter support.

"The cigarette tax is a proven strategy to protect thousands of Virginia kids from tobacco addiction while, at the same time, helping the state address budget concerns and provide vital healthcare services," said Keenan Caldwell, Director of Government Relations for the American Cancer Society. "The state legislature should listen to the people of Virginia and increase the cigarette tax to the national average. A smaller increase will not have a measurable health impact. While a 30-cent increase will generate some new revenue, it is an enormous missed opportunity in terms of health."

The poll found that increasing the cigarette tax is the most palatable approach to addressing Virginia's budget woes. A majority of voters (77 percent) say they favor increasing the cigarette tax to help balance the state's budget. Fewer than four in 10 Virginia voters support the other tax increases or spending cuts that may be necessary to balance the budget, including increasing the sales tax or income tax, or reducing funding for public safety, education and Medicaid. "This poll shows that among the options that are on the table, increasing the cigarette tax is clearly
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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