Advocates call for Nebraska tobacco tax increase

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Anti-smoking advocates are calling on lawmakers to increase the state's tobacco tax as part of their reforms to Nebraska's tax system.

The American Cancer Society's advocacy arm released a poll Friday that said 68 percent of likely voters in Nebraska support an increase, while 29 percent oppose it. The group will present its poll to the Legislature's Tax Modernization Committee, which is meeting at the Capitol.

David Holmquist of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network says a tobacco tax increase would help reduce health care costs and discourage youths from smoking. Holmquist says lawmakers could use the revenue for property tax relief, or for smoking cessation programs.

Nebraska's cigarette tax is 64 cents a pack, the 38th highest nationwide. The national average is $1.53 per pack.