Kentucky Residents Call for Higher Cigarette Tax

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Kentucky Residents Call for Higher Cigarette Tax

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- In a recent Herald-Leader/WKYT Kentucky Poll, 600 would-be voters said they favor increasing the state's cigarette tax by 70 cents to $1 a pack, a proposal unsuccessfully pushed by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear during the 2008 session of the General Assembly, reported the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The poll concluded that 55 percent support the tax increase, 34 percent oppose it and 11 percent were undecided. Exist polling found that a majority of Democrats and independents support the tax increase, while a plurality of Republicans, 47 percent, oppose it.
Despite a tax increase of 3 cents to 30 cents in 2005, Kentucky has the third-lowest cigarette tax in the nation. Nationally, cigarette taxes average $1.11 a pack, reported the paper.

Keturah Prophet, general manager of the Tobacco Station on Versailles Road, told the Lexington Herald-Leader last time the cigarette tax went up, many customers said they were going to quit. But a week later, those people were back at her store. "They all say they're going to quit, but cigarettes are the most addicting drug that's out there," Prophet told the paper.

Prophet doesn’t support an increase in the cigarette tax explaining that she is a smoker, telling the paper, "Why don't they add another increase to alcohol?"

The Kentucky Tobacco and Candy Association contend that any increase will make convenience store retailers less competitive with cigarette sellers in neighboring states. "We would be even or above every one of our neighboring states except Ohio," Marvin Gray, executive director of the association, which represents the wholesalers who sell to convenience stores, told the paper.

Republican legislators are holding firm on proposed increases, Republican Senate President David Williams told the paper. "The Republican majority in the Senate expressed no interest at all in raising the cigarette tax during the recent legislative session," Beshear said, adding "Only time will tell whether those circumstances will change."