Topeka — A health care group released a poll Tuesday showing most Kansans would support a higher tax on cigarettes.
Gov. Bill Graves has proposed increasing the state tax to 89 cents per pack from the current 24 cents to raise an estimated $111 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The increase is supported by the Kansas Health Care Access Coalition, made up of 34 health and social service groups.
A December survey of 500 registered Kansas voters found supporters of a higher tax outnumbered opponents 3-to-1, coalition members said at a news conference. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Many health advocates say higher cigarette prices would reduce smoking, especially among young people.
"This is more than a fiscal issue," said Graves, who stopped by at the Statehouse news conference. "This is driven in large part by health benefits that we know will be derived from reducing smoking, especially among young Kansans."
At a hearing Tuesday of the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee, health advocates spoke in favor of Graves' tax plan while criticism came from anti-tax activists, retail stores and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.