Full Report: North Dakota Lawmakers Look to Hike Up Tobacco Taxes
Smokers in North Dakota could be looking at a spike in tobacco prices.
Lawmakers have approved a petition that could potentially quadruple the state’s cigarette tax.
The measure’s fate will ultimately be in the hands of voters this November, but before that, the petition will need to gather a designated amount of signatures to move forward.
North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger has approved a petition that could potentially increase the state’s tobacco tax.
The petition introduced by The Raise it for Health North Dakota Coalition is looking to up the state’s current 44 cent cigarette tax to just over $1.70 a pack.
“Raising the prices on tobacco is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, and other tobacco use, especially among youth. We have the facts and data to show that it works,” said Kristie Wolff Program Director at the American Lung Association in North Dakota.
People I spoke to say whether the measure passes or not, they don’t think it will matter.
“I think, I mean, because of the raising of taxes, the possibility, I think a lot of people will still buy cigarettes. I just think that the population that comes from Minnesota or other states to buy them here for cheaper will slow down,” said Tyler Dewitz of Fargo.
“In my opinion, no matter how high the price on packages of tobacco goes, I anticipate that people will still purchase them,” said Nicole Seaberg of Fargo.
Now that the secretary of state has approved the petition, the coalition will need to gather just over 13,000 signatures to move forward in the process.
“As soon as the signatures are received we will then summit those, and then when we have enough signatures we will be able to get that on the ballot,” said Wolff.
The coalition has until July 11th to gather the signatures.
Wolff says the organization is anticipating that they’ll receive voter support.
“Voters gave us one of the best smoke free laws in the nation, we’re confident that North Dakota voters will respond positively to this,” said Wolff.
In the past, retailers have successfully fought attempts to raise the state’s tobacco tax.
The last tobacco tax increase in North Dakota was in 1993.