“Georgia is experiencing unexpected and significant budget shortfalls and this poll demonstrates the strong support by Georgia voters for a revenue solution through a tobacco tax increase that will at once create public health benefits as well as save taxpayers money over time by reducing smoking,” Balk said.
Lawmakers for years have attempted to increase the state tax on tobacco sales, but efforts have routinely failed since Georgia passed a modest increase in 2003. Several bills and resolutions pushing for an increase in the tax were introduced this legislative session, but none gained any traction.
In the poll, respondents were asked, “generally speaking, instead of an income tax increase, would you support or oppose a targeted tax increase of $1.50 per pack on cigarettes that would raise almost $500 million toward balancing the budget?” Of the 500 people contacted for the poll, 373 said they support the tobacco tax increase.
The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4%.
It was taken shortly after the leaders of Georgia House and Senate budget committees asked state agencies to submit plans to cut 14% - or more than $3.5 billion - from their proposed budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. Lawmakers said the cuts are needed because of a decline in tax revenue due to the coronavirus recession.