Poll: Connecticut Voters Favor Tobacco Control Measures

2/25/2002

From: Anthony Guglielmi of the American Cancer Society, 203-379-4838 or Tony Iallonardo of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 202-296-5469

HARTFORD, Conn., Feb. 25 -- As the Connecticut Legislature considers a proposal to raise the state's tobacco tax by 61 cents per pack to help balance the state's budget, a new poll shows that two-thirds of the state's voters would prefer a slightly higher tax with the additional revenues used to fund a comprehensive tobacco prevention program.

The results of the poll were released today by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, along with the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and American Lung Association, which urged the Legislature and Gov. John Rowland to enact a 72-cent tobacco tax increase in order to fund a prevention and cessation program at the level recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Said William V. Corr of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, "The state has not fulfilled the promise of the tobacco settlement to fund an effective tobacco prevention program in Connecticut; it's critical that we take advantage of the opportunity provided by the tobacco tax to do so."

According to the poll, 68 percent of Connecticut voters prefer a 72-cent tobacco tax increase that addresses the budget deficit AND fully funds a program to prevent kids from starting to smoke and to help current smokers quit, while just 19 percent prefer a 61-cent tax with all of the revenue used to address the budget deficit. Twelve percent said that they prefer neither tax increase.

"It's very clear that voters tie the source of the revenue to its use", said Mark Mellman of The Mellman Group, which conducted the poll. "They want at least some of the tobacco tax revenue used to address the problem of tobacco use."

Added Corr, "While the tobacco tax itself will be effective in reducing tobacco use, especially among kids, its impact will be much more dramatic if some of the funds are used to implement the type of comprehensive tobacco prevention programs that are saving lives and health care costs in other states. Research show that these programs reduce smoking beyond the impact of the price increase that results from the tax. Besides, it's only fair to the smokers who will bear the new tax to provide help to those who choose to attempt to quit."

The CDC recommends that Connecticut spend a minimum of $21.2 million annually on a tobacco prevention program. While the state receives roughly $120 million each year from its settlement with the tobacco companies, it is spending only $580,000 of that money this year on tobacco prevention, despite proposals in past legislative sessions to fund tobacco prevention with settlement funds. According to a report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Connecticut currently ranks 45th in the nation and last in New England in funding tobacco prevention. An additional 11 cents in the tobacco tax increase would provide the additional revenue needed to fund a program at the level recommended by the CDC.

A large body of economic research, numerous expert panels, experience in other states, and even the tobacco industry have concluded decisively that price increases are effective in reducing smoking, especially among youth. In California and Massachusetts, where tobacco tax increases have been used to fund tobacco prevention programs, the states are preventing 2 to 3 dollars in tobacco-related health care costs for every dollar they spend on the programs.

The poll also showed that Connecticut voters are very concerned about the health effects of secondhand smoke and want local communities to have the power to enact restrictions on smoking in public places. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said they are concerned about the health effects of secondhand smoke. Over 90 percent agreed that secondhand smoke is "bad for your health," with 85 percent saying it can cause problems like heart disease and cancer.

It is no surprise then that, by a margin of 63 percent to 32 percent, Connecticut voters favor giving local communities the option of passing their own laws to restrict smoking in public places, even if those laws are stronger than the state law.

Said Anthony Guglielmi of the American Cancer Society, "The public obviously recognizes the health consequences of secondhand smoke and wants their local communities to be able to do something about it. We simply cannot let the current weak statewide standard prevent local officials from giving their citizens the health protections they demand."

The poll results are based on a statewide random sample of 600 registered likely Connecticut voters that was interviewed by telephone from Feb. 13-17. The survey was conducted by The Mellman Group, Inc. of Washington, D.C. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Connecticut, taking the lives of over 5,000 of the states residents each year. Twenty-five percent of Connecticut high school students are current smokers, and 7,800 Connecticut kids become new regular daily smokers each year; one-third of them will eventually die a premature death from tobacco use. In addition to its human toll, tobacco use results in over a billion dollars in health care costs each year in Connecticut.

------ Annotated Questionnaire Survey of Registered Connecticut Voters

The random survey of 600 registered Connecticut voters was conducted Feb. 13-17 by The Mellman Group, Inc. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. All total numbers are rounded to the nearest percentage.

--- How likely would you say you are to vote in the November 2002 general election for Governor, Congress and other offices -- are you almost certain to vote, will you probably vote, are the chances about 50-50, are you probably not going to vote, or are you definitely not going to vote? almost certain...83 probably.........17 about 50-50......TERMINATE probably not.....TERMINATE definitely not...TERMINATE don't know.......TERMINATE

--- Do you think things in Connecticut are moving in the right direction or are they pretty seriously off on the wrong track? right direction...65 wrong track.......25 don't know........10

--- How concerned are you about smoking and other tobacco use among young people in Connecticut -- very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned? very concerned.........61 somewhat concerned.....27 not too concerned.......8 not at all concerned....3 don't know (VOL)........1 refused (VOL)...........0

--- There are currently two plans for increasing Connecticut's state tobacco tax

(ROTATE) Plan A would raise the tobacco tax by 61-cents per pack and use all of the revenue to address the state's budget deficit without spending any money on tobacco prevention and other programs.

Plan B would raise the tobacco tax by 72-cents per pack and use most of the revenue to address the state's budget deficit, while also fully funding a program to prevent kids from starting to smoke and help current smokers quit.

Which proposal would you be more likely to support? (IF PLAN A/PLAN B): Is that much more likely or somewhat more likely? Much more likely Plan A (61-cent).......13 Somewhat more likely Plan A (61-cent)....5 Somewhat more likely Plan B (72-cent)...18 Much more likely Plan B (72-cent).......49 Neither (vol)...........................12 DK (vol).................................2

--- How concerned are you about the health effects of second-hand smoke... would you say very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned? very concerned............56 somewhat concerned........28 not too concerned.........10 not at all concerned.......6 don't know (VOL)...........0 refused (VOL)..............0

--- Do you agree or disagree that breathing second-hand smoke is bad for your health? (If AGREE/DISAGREE, ASK:) And do you strongly (agree/disagree) or somewhat (agree/disagree)? agree, strongly..........76 agree, somewhat..........16 disagree, somewhat........3 disagree, strongly........3 don't know/refused........3

--- Do you think breathing second-hand smoke could cause disease like cancer and heart disease or does breathing second-hand smoke not cause disease? (IF COULD CAUSE/WOULD NOT CAUSE, ASK:) And do you feel that way strongly or not so strongly? could cause cancer, strongly.............66 could cause cancer, not so strongly......18 does not cause cancer, not so strongly....5 does not cause cancer, strongly...........4 don't know/refused........................6

--- Do you favor or oppose giving local Connecticut communities the option of passing their own laws to restrict smoking in public places, even if those laws are stronger than state law? (FAVOR/OPPOSE, ASK:) And do you feel that way strongly or not so strongly? Strong favor..............48 Not strong favor..........15 Not strong oppose.........11 Strong oppose.............21 don't know/refused.........5

--- THANK YOU. THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS ARE FOR CLASSIFICATION PURPOSES ONLY.

Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an independent, or something else? (IF REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT ASK:) Do you consider yourself a strong (Republican/Democrat) or a not so strong (Republican/Democrat)? (IF INDEPENDENT ASK:) Would you say that you lean more toward the Republicans or more toward the Democrats? strong Republican..............18 not so strong Republican........7 independent leans Republican....8 independent....................27 independent leans Democratic...10 not so strong Democrat..........8 strong Democrat................21 dk/na/other.....................2

--- Do you consider yourself very liberal, somewhat liberal, moderate, somewhat conservative or very conservative? (IF MODERATE, ASK:) Do you tend to lean toward the liberal or conservative side? very liberal..................8 somewhat liberal.............15 moderate leans liberal.......10 moderate.....................34 moderate leans conservative...7 somewhat conservative........16 very conservative.............7 dk/na.........................2

--- What is your age? (CODE ACTUAL AGE. REFUSED=99) 18-29.....11 30-39.....19 40-49.....23 50-59.....17 60-plus...25 na.........4

--- What was the last level of schooling you completed? less than high school graduate...5 high school graduate............25 some college....................23 college graduate................29 post-graduate...................16 na...............................1

--- Do you have children, 18 years old or younger living at home? Yes....................32 No.....................67 don't know/refused......1

--- Do you or does any member of your household belong to a labor union? yes, self..........8 yes, household.....6 yes, both..........1 no................84 dk.................1

--- Are you black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, or some other race? black.............5 white............90 Hispanic..........2 Asian.............0 Native American...1 Other.............1 na................1

--- If you were asked to use one of these given names for the economic class you belong to, which would you say you belong in-upper class, upper middle-class, middle class, working class, or lower class? upper class...........1 upper middle-class...19 middle-class.........51 working class........20 lower class...........2 don't know (VOL)......5 other (VOL)...........1

--- Which of the following describes your use of tobacco products ... I currently smoke cigarettes or regularly use smokeless tobacco ... I USED to smoke cigarettes or regularly use tobacco, but I've quit ... or I have never been a cigarette smoker or used smokeless tobacco. (DEFINITION OF SMOKELESS TOBACCO): By smokeless tobacco, I mean such things as chewing tobacco or snuff. current smoker/smokeless user..........18 former smoker/smokeless user...........36 never smoked/used smokeless tobacco....46 don't know (PROBE: RE-READ QUESTION)...0 refused...1

--- In which of the following ranges does your family income fall? (READ LIST) below $12,000...................3 12 but less than 20 thousand....4 20 but less than 30 thousand...10 30 but less than 40 thousand...10 40 but less than 50 thousand....9 50 but less than 60 thousand....9 60 but less than 80 thousand...10 80 but less than 100 thousand...7 above 100 thousand.............10 don't know/refused.............26

--- Is your income or that of anyone in your household dependent on the tobacco industry? Yes..................2 No..................97 don't know/refused...1

--- And last, what is your zip code?

That completes our public opinion survey. Thank you very much for your time and cooperation.











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