Researchers at West Virginia University’s School of Public Health say a clear majority of West Virginians would support a substantial increase in taxes on tobacco products on the condition that the extra revenue collected would benefit public health.

West Virginia adults participating in last year’s Adult Tobacco Survey (WVATS) were asked whether or not they favored a conditional tax increase and how much that increase should be. Sixty percent favored a significantly higher, dedicated cigarette tax, with 43 percent supporting a state tax increase of $2 or more (which would make West Virginia’s tax rate $2.55 cents per pack of cigarettes). Slightly more were behind a tax increase for smokeless tobacco products. Researchers were surprised to find that 38 percent of smokers spoke up in favor of a tax hike on cigarettes in addition to the two-thirds of nonsmokers who responded similarly.

Both genders were found to favor a cigarette tax increase to benefit public health improvement. Women were found to be particularly supportive of a tax increase: more than twice as many favored such a measure (64 percent) than opposed it (30 percent). The remaining 6 percent had no opinion or did not answer the question.

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