Increase in tobacco tax proposed in North Dakota

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BISMARCK (KFYR) -- North Dakota has the fourth-lowest state tobacco tax in the country at 44 cents a pack.

Only Missouri, Virginia and Georgia have lower tobacco taxes.

Tobacco Free North Dakota says that tobacco-related health problems are the leading cause of death in North Dakota.

The group proposed to the Interim Health Commission to raise the tobacco tax to $1.94 per pack of cigarettes.

"Costs of many things have gone up in the last twenty five years, but our tax rate has held steady, and so the value of that tax dollar has diminished over time as health care costs rise, as insurance rates rise," said Heather Austin, Tobacco Free North Dakota executive director.

Tobacco Free North Dakota also wants to add a tax for electronic cigarettes, which the group says aren't taxed in North Dakota.