Democratic candidate Chet Culver promises to raise the state tax on cigarettes by $1 a pack if he’s elected governor. Culver says if a pack of cigarettes is more expensive, fewer teenagers will take up the habit and some adult smokers will stop. “I want to help save lives in Iowa by increasing the tobacco tax,” Culver says.
Culver accuses his Republican rival, Congressman Jim Nussle, of opposing a cigarette tax hike because Nussle has taken campaign contributions from the tobacco industry in the past. “He has taken $70,000 in campaign contributions from Big Tobacco and it’s no wonder,” Culver says.
Culver’s campaign issued a statement citing statistics from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids which suggest there’d be a 19 percent decrease in youth smoking if the cigarette tax is raised by a buck a pack.
During a recent appearance before the Linn County Medical Society, Nussle said raising the cigarette tax doesn’t solve the problem of teen smoking. Maria Comella, a spokewoman for the Nussle campaign, responded to Culver’s charge by ridiculing Culver for failing to appear at the forum with Nussle. She said Culver’s “hiding from voters” and “only emerging long enough to go negative” against Nussle.