Polls Show Voters Support Cigarette Tax Hike

More than 70 percent of California voters support a $1.50 per pack increase in the cigarette tax as a way to help solve the state's budget deficit, the American Lung Association announced Tuesday.

Even 52 percent of those voters who generally oppose taxes as a strategy for deficit reduction would support the tax increase, according to a poll taken in late June.

Pollsters say the outcome cuts across political party affiliations and varying ideologies.

The poll was commissioned on behalf of the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. The three organizations, together with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, have co-sponsored a bill authored by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, to increase the tax.

A hearing on the bill by the State Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee is scheduled for tomorrow.

Fifty-five percent of the 600 registered voters interviewed "strongly support" the idea of a $1.50 tax increase and 17 percent "somewhat support" the proposal as initially presented. When offered arguments against the tax, voters' support dropped somewhat, to 68 percent overall.

Solid majorities were also found for increased taxes on alcoholic beverages (79 percent), the wealthy (67 percent) and oil companies (66 percent), but voters asked to rank priorities placed the tobacco proposal first, the poll showed.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to state officials in support of the State Senate bill, after a 3-2 vote on June 16, with Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe voting against. Supervisor Gloria Molina said the legislation would generate about $1.2 billion in new revenue in the first year of implementation.

The poll was a joint effort of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates, which typically represents Democratic candidates and issues, and Public Opinion Strategies, which typically represents Republican candidates and issues.

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