The Raise It for Health North Dakota Coalition submits over 22,000 signatures favoring tobacco tax increase

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(Valley News Live) The Raise It for Health North Dakota Coalition is one step closer to seeing a tobacco tax increase.

The coalition submitted over 22,000 signatures to the state in support of the tax showing that many North Dakotans back the tax.

"Based on the fact that I have 22,000 signatures in front of me, I think that speaks very loudly to the fact that North Dakotans do promote tobacco prevention," says Kristie Wolf with the Raise It for Health North Dakota Coalition

The signatures favor seeing an increase in the tobacco tax which is currently $0.44-per pack and if the increase happens you will now be paying $2.20-per pack.

The ultimate goal for this tobacco tax increase is to hopefully decrease youth smoking by 20% and prevent 5,800 youth from ever starting.

"If we respect that government's job isn't to be taxing and trying to modulate people's behavior then it doesn't matter if it's a behavior that you have or that someone else has it's just not the right thing," says Rep. Rick Becker.

One current smoker says there are pros and cons to the proposed tobacco tax increase.

"Going to have to pay more if I want to continue but I'm hoping that it might deter me too because it's something I've been wanting to quit for a long time," says Scott Platfers.

The coalition says the proposed increase levels North Dakota's cigarette tax with neighboring states which average $2.08-per pack leaving many to wonder if the increase will effectively bring the desired outcome of people quitting the habit and acting as a preventative measure.

"It's not going to prevent all of them but I think it's going to get some of them and every little bit helps," adds Platfers.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger has 35-days to review the signatures and decide if the decision to increase the tobacco tax will be passed over to the people on this November's ballot.