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AIF Poll: Floridians Want All Smokers to Pay Their Fair Share of Health Care Costs

January 4, 2010

TALLAHASSEE - Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) today released additional poll results which show nearly two-thirds of Floridians strongly support the imposition of a fee on cigarettes sold by manufacturers who do not make payments to the State of Florida under its historic 1997 Tobacco Settlement Agreement.  Conducted by Zogby International, the telephone survey of likely voters found that 65 percent of respondents support imposition of the fee while only 28 percent oppose it.  Another 7 percent were not sure. 

Currently, smokers who purchase tobacco products made by the manufacturers that signed the agreement pay an extra 40 cents a pack, which the state uses to pay health care costs associated with smoking.

"More than 20 percent of the cigarettes sold in Florida today are made by companies that did not sign the Tobacco Settlement and whose customers make no equivalent contribution toward health care.  And, these poll results show that voters agree by more than two-to-one that smokers should pay their fair share for health care regardless of the brand they smoke," said Barney Bishop III, president and CEO of AIF. 

"Companies like Dosal sell some of the cheapest cigarettes in the state and even with a 40-cents-per-pack increase, their cigarettes will still be cheaper than the name-brand manufacturers' and more attractive to the low-income smokers who can least afford health care," said Bishop.  "If the whole point of the Tobacco Settlement was to ensure we as a state could pay the health care costs of future Medicaid recipients, it only makes sense that all cigarette manufacturers help pay for these costs.
To most Floridians a cigarette is a cigarette - they don't care who the manufacturer is; they just want to recoup their fair share of the future health care costs.  As health care costs continue to skyrocket, we cannot afford to leave hundreds of millions of dollars on the table in these tough fiscal budget times."

AIF will continue its strong support for non-participating manufacturer fee legislation during the 2010 legislative session.

"Florida's swelling Medicaid rolls make passage of this legislation imperative," added Bishop. "The revenues generated by the fee can be matched by federal funds to produce close to $200 million in much-needed Medicaid dollars. There is simply no reason whatsoever to delay its passage."

Conducted by Zogby International on Dec. 7-11, 2009, the poll surveyed by telephone 801 randomly-selected likely general election voters throughout Florida.  It has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.