A new survey shows 73% of Nebraska voters support raising the state tobacco tax. David Holmquist is the Director of Government Relations for the American Cancer Society in Nebraska and says they also support the increase.
“The proposal is to raise the cigarette tax from 64-cents per pack to 1.99 per pack so the increase would be $1.39 per pack.”
Holmquist says it is estimated the increase would bring in just under 73-million dollars in state revenue. He says the funding would be used to support several programs including making up for reduced funding for Medicaid.
“Provide some funding for a provide rate fund so we can keep medial providers in the state to work with Medicare patients and consequently with Medicare patients because it will keep numbers higher. The other half would go to help fill the budget gap we are facing right now.”
Holmquist says many Medicaid recipients will have difficulty in the future as the number of medical providers accepting Medicaid is declining.
“Medicaid providers, aging services providers, behavioral health providers and others, their rates, they are to cut their rates dramatically and that means fewer providers will offer their services to Medicaid participants.”
Holmquist says it is also estimated that 19,500 Nebraska kids will never take up the habit and about 10-thousand adult smokers will quit.
“We want to save lives so with this increase we will have a dramatic numbers of people who will quit smoking and a number of young people who won’t start smoking.”
The poll consisted of 500 Nebraskans and was conducted by a national polling firm. It showed 73% preferred raising the tax instead of cutting critical programs. Along with assisting with funding for Medicaid and Medicare, the funds could also be used for highway construction and for education.