Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Support Shown for Tax Increase ; Poll: Voters Less Opposed to Raising Tobacco Tax When Compared to Other Taxes

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Support Shown for Tax Increase ; Poll: Voters Less Opposed to Raising Tobacco Tax When Compared to Other Taxes

Article excerpt

Voters oppose raising tobacco taxes the least when compared to other potential tax hikes, new polling released by supporters of an increase shows.

According to the poll, 47 percent of likely voters said they were least opposed to raising the state's tobacco tax. But 51 percent still indicated they would be less opposed to raising other taxes, such as the personal income tax, local property tax or sales tax.

When asked which taxes they would be most opposed to increasing, only 6 percent said tobacco taxes, while 91 percent said they were most opposed to increasing other taxes -- with 46 percent most opposed to raising local property tax.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback first proposed increases in cigarette taxes in January as a way to generate additional revenue as the state faces a $436 million revenue shortfall in the coming fiscal year. The proposed increase of $1.50 per pack along with an increase in liquor taxes, would generate about $100 million more a year.

But the health lobby, not the administration, has waged the most public campaign in favor of the hike, arguing a sufficiently high increase will tamp down the number of smokers. The release of the polling Tuesday, conducted by Republican pollster and strategist Glen Bolger, is the latest salvo in an effort to advance the proposal.

"We need to see a strong enough increase in the tax to produce the health savings and the health benefits on the back end. That's really why we're in this, because of the reduction in the number of smokers and ultimately the decrease in the amount of money that's spent on health care costs," said Kevin Walker of the American Heart Association.

"To see that Kansans have this strong a level of support for this proposal is absolutely encouraging to me."

The poll, of 500 likely voters conducted in February, also found that 47 percent strongly favor increasing the tobacco tax and using the revenue to decrease the state income tax, with an additional 21 percent somewhat favoring it. …

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