Anti-smoking Advocates Hope to Raise Cigarette Tax in North Dakota

Bismark, N.D. -- North Dakota's cigarette tax, which at 44 cents a pack is a dollar less than the national average, may rise by $2 per pack if smoking cessation advocates have their way, according to the local NBC-TV affiliate here.

The Tobacco Prevention and Control Council would like to get the tax raised during the state's next legislative session. The cigarette tax hasn't been raised by the legislature since 1993.

Like most smoking cessation proponents, the Tobacco Prevention and Control council says raising the tax would save lives and reduce smoking among young people. It also predicts the tax increase will generate $34 million in revenue for the state -- which it hopes will be spent on more smoking prevention programs.

Increasing taxes North Dakota, though, doesn't promise to be as easy as in some other states, like New York and New Jersey, which have among the highest tobacco taxes in the nation. Senate committee chairman Dwight Cook said the proposal will likely have a rocky road, noting "$34 million is a lot of money to take out of people`s pockets and proponents will need to prove this tax increase won`t spur some type of black market for cigarette sales." Tobacco cessation proponents say they`re confident a tax increase will do what`s intended.

The proposal would also increase the tax on other tobacco products in line with the $2 a pack increase.

The Tobacco and Prevention and Control Council was created from Measure 3 passed by voters in 2008. The council is also working to pass non-smoking ordinances throughout the state.

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