Who supports tobacco excise taxes? Factors associated with towns' and individuals' support in Massachusetts

J Public Health Manag Pract. 2005 Jul-Aug;11(4):333-40. doi: 10.1097/00124784-200507000-00012.


Objectives: The authors examined factors related to public support for cigarette taxes: smoking behavior, attitudes about other tobacco control policies, and sociodemographic factors.

Methods: The authors regressed referendum voting outcomes on sociodemographic characteristics of Massachusetts' 351 towns. Logistic regressions on the surveys of Massachusetts adults (N = 14,000+) showed support for hypothetical tax increases to be related to respondents' smoking status, support for other tobacco control policies, and sociodemographic characteristics.

Results: Average educational attainment, probably acting as a proxy for nonsmoking prevalence, strongly predicted town-level support for Massachusetts' 1992 cigarette tax referendum. Survey respondents' support for hypothetical further increases was strongest if tax proceeds were earmarked for tobacco control or health purposes and if the individual was a nonsmoker and favored other tobacco control policies. For an earmarked tax, support was stronger among younger persons, females, persons with higher education, racial/ethnic minorities, and smokers with children.

Conclusions: The high nationwide proportion of nonsmokers means that tobacco tax proposals can obtain strong voter support, but only if tax revenues are clearly earmarked for tobacco control and similar uses. Individual- and town-level characteristics can identify likely concentrations of support. Because attitudes toward tobacco control are only partly linked to smoking status, education campaigns may make a difference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Politics*
  • Public Health
  • Public Opinion*
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Social Control Policies
  • Taxes / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Tobacco Industry / economics*
  • Tobacco Industry / legislation & jurisprudence