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WVU survey: Public backs higher cigarette taxes

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- A survey of West Virginia adults shows 60 percent would favor higher cigarette taxes if the revenue would benefit public health.

Forty-three percent back an increase of $2 per pack or more.

The 2012 survey of 2,132 smokers and non-smokers was recently released by researchers at West Virginia University's School of Public Health.

The Adult Tobacco Survey asked whether people favored a conditional increase and how much.

The state's current tax is just 55 cents — the 44th-lowest in the U.S.

Only North Carolina, North Dakota, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia and Missouri have lower taxes.

In 2011, a bill to raise West Virginia's tax by $1 died.

Investigator Valerie Frey (Fry) McClung says higher prices deter young people from using tobacco and encourage adults to cut back or stop.