The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Poll: Most Floridians would hike taxes on Dosal butt manufacturer

13

April

One of the issues earning lobbyists and PR consultants a ton of money once again this year is the debate over whether Miami-based Dosalbutt.jpg should see a major tax hike to level the playing field with other major tobacco companies paying much higher taxes under the 1997 tobacco settlement Gov. Lawton Chiles won. At the time Dosal represented barely two percent of the market in Florida and was dismissed from the settlement (Dosal supporters say that's also because Dosal wasn't engaging in the kind a sleazy behavior, targeting children as big tobacco). Now it represents more than 20 percent and big tobacco companies want Dosal subject to the same fees they face.

They have a new Mason-Dixon poll commissioned by the Consumer Federation of the Southeast with an assist from Ron Sachs Communications to bolster their position. The April 4-7 poll (MoE +/- 3.5 percent) found 71 percent of Florida voters support "requiring all companies that make or sell cigarettes in Florida to pay similar fees to the state."

Nearly seven in 10 said small cigarette manufacturers like Dosal should pay the 52 percent fee "because their product is so heavily discounted that the increase would have little impact on their sales or their business. Only 19 percent said they should not "because the impact of this additional cost would result in a loss of Florida jobs and the closing of
manufacturing plants in Florida."

“The results of this poll are clear: Floridians want all tobacco companies to pay their fair share to cover the health care costs incurred using their products” Walt Dartland, executive director of Consumer Federation of the Southeast said in a press release. “It is time for the legislature to take action and support common sense legislation that represents the sensible opinion of the great majority of Floridians.”

“People know a cigarette is a cigarette. No matter who manufactures it the result is the same – people get sick and it adds additional health care cost to the state budget," said former attorney general Bob Butterworth. "All non‐settling companies should be paying their fair share.”

"This poll is yet another ploy by Big Tobacco to gain marketshare by misrepresenting the facts and misleading the public," said Dosal spokeswoman Sarah Bascom. "These questions are blatantly loaded and disengious and do not even begin to explain the facts of the issue to those being surveyed. Our recommendation would be for this group to commission another poll and report back on how voters feel when asked if they support their business being taxed because a competitor engaged in acts of wrongdoing, settled in court, and then later complained that their settlement gives them a competitive disadvantage."

 

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 12:04pm]

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