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Opposition Builds to Proposed N.D. Tobacco Tax Hike

BISMARCK, N.D. — A ballot question in November's election could raise the state's cigarette excise tax 44 cents to $2.20 packs. However, retailers and tobacco companies are fighting the measure. 

Last month, the Raise It for Health North Dakota coalition delivered a petition to raise the state's tobacco tax to the state's Secretary of State. The petition contained more than 22,000 signatures. State law requires 13,452 validated and approved signatures to reach the ballot in November, as CSNews Online previously reported.

In addition to a hike in the cigarette levy, the tax on other tobacco products, including liquid nicotine, would go from 28 percent to 56 percent of the wholesale purchase price.

But now the North Dakota Retail Association is stepping up its opposition efforts. According to, association President Mike Rud said an initiated is "bad tax policy."

The group has organized The Stop The 400% Tax Increase Coalition to fight the move. According to Rud, the measure amounts to a 400-percent excise tax increase on cigarettes. It also doubles taxes on other tobacco products and puts a new tax on electronic cigarettes. 

He added the measure goes "too far in the sale of a legal product to a legal age customer." Rud told the news outlet if approved, the measure will mean "significant financial losses" for retailers, and could lead to layoffs and store closings.

In addition to the retail group, Altria Group Inc. and RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co., an operating company of Reynolds American Inc., are taking a stand against the proposed levy increase. 

According to The Associated Press, campaign finance disclosure reports filed with the North Dakota Secretary of State's office show Richmond, Va.-based Altria and RJ Reynolds, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., have contributed more than $860,000 to fight the tobacco tax increase that will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

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