A significant majority of Kentucky voters of all party affiliations support raising the state’s cigarette tax by $1 a pack, according to a new poll released Thursday by the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow.
The poll, conducted by nationally renowned Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc., found that 69 percent of registered Kentucky voters support a $1 cigarette tax increase.
Support for the $1 cigarette tax increase went up to 73 percent when those polled were told a cigarette tax of $1 is projected to raise about $250 million a year for Kentucky and prevent about 20,000 kids from becoming smokers.
As the state struggles to find much-needed revenue, respondents were asked about different potential tax increases. Of all tax increases presented to the voters polled, support for the tobacco tax increase was by far the most favored option as part of tax reform. A strong majority (52 percent) chose the cigarette tax as the option they would most support, compared to 19 percent support for a sales tax increase, 9 percent support for subjecting currently untaxed services to the state sales tax, and 4 percent support for applying the sales tax to groceries. Sixteen percent were not sure.
On Tuesday, Sen. Stephen Meredith filed Senate Bill 29 that would increase the cigarette tax by $1 a pack in many areas of the state and $1.50 in communities that do not have a smoke-free ordinance with the funds being designated to tobacco-related illnesses being paid by Medicaid.
The Kentucky Chamber supports a cigarette tax increase and has featured the policy in the organization’s top legislative priorities for the 2018 session.