(Host) Supporters of a plan to increase the state cigarette tax say a new poll shows that a strong majority of Vermonters back their effort. According to a poll released by the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont, 77% of the people responding to the survey support boosting the cigarette tax by as much as a dollar a pack. Non-smokers overwhelmingly backed the tax increase while smokers were evenly split on the issue.
The cigarette tax hike faces some strong opposition from several Republican leaders in the Vermont House. Coalition spokeswoman Tina Zuk hopes the new poll results will help convince lawmakers to take on this issue this year:
(Zuk) "The most compelling reason to raise the tax is because it saves lives and it saves health care dollars. I think our most compelling reason is the future of our youth in Vermont, that we know that increasing the tax significantly is one of the best ways to prevent kids from smoking and that should be something that the Legislature should listen to very loud and clear to make sure that we don’t have more lives that are lost to tobacco and more kids who start smoking every day."
(Host) Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin has promised to pass legislation that will substantially increase the cigarette tax, but it’s unlikely that House leaders will go along with this plan.