KX News: Raise It For Health North Dakota Coalition Seeks Tobacco Tax Change

By Kaitlyn Wurnig
It will require 13,452 signatures and a yes vote, but the Raise it for Health North Dakota coalition is seeking a change. A change North Dakota has not had in 23 years.
“Increasing the price of tobacco is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking and other tobacco use, especially among youth,” says Kristie Wolff, American Lung Association.
The coalition submitted a petition to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office Wednesday to initiate a ballot measure. The ballot measure calls for a tax increase on cigarettes and tobacco products in North Dakota.
“In other states including our neighboring state of Minnesota, we have seen increasing the price of tobacco has reduced smoking across all populations,” says Dr. Eric Johnson, Ballot Chairman.
The proposed measure would increase the tax on cigarettes from 44 cents per pack to $2.20 per pack. Other tobacco products would increase from 28 percent of the wholesale purchase price to 56 percent. Ballot Chairman, Dr. Eric Johnson says the $1.76 increase is estimated to decrease youth smoking and save millions in health care costs.
“With the strong medical evidence to support this initiative, we need to pay attention to the facts,” says Dr. Johnson.
Some people would agree.
“I think it’s a good idea because maybe it’ll give more people an idea of how much money they’re wasting on such a stupid product,” says Gage McMahen.
“In a way it could be good because now they have to spend more for tobacco and it could cut down on younger kids quitting,” says Atlantis Belgarde.
Others don’t support the idea.
“Absolutely not because well for one I’m a smoker. Not that I say smoking is good for ya, but they’re constantly raising taxes on things regardless of who they think it affects and I just don’t feel that raising taxes is a good thing,” says Keith Eiss.
If the measure does pass, 50 percent of the new revenues would go to a veterans tobacco trust fund.  The other 50 percent would benefit a community health trust fund.
North Dakota currently ranks 47th in the nation for tobacco tax rates.
The national average per pack is $1.61.
Read more or watch video: http://www.kxnet.com/story/31488549/raise-it-for-health-north-dakota-coalition-seeks-tobacco-tax-change