CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A survey shows that a majority of West Virginians would support increasing the state's cigarette tax.
Sixty percent of adults in the state support raising the tax in order to support public health programs, according to the 2012 West Virginia Adult Tobacco Survey from West Virginia University's School of Public Health.
The survey is funded by the state Bureau for Public Health's Division of Tobacco Prevention.
Sixty-one percent of residents said they'd support increasing the tax on smokeless tobacco.
Valerie Frey-McClung, investigator at the WVU Prevention Research Center, said tobacco is a "huge burden" on the state.
"The importance [of raising the tax] is because, when you increase the price, you reduce consumption and keep kids from picking up the habit in the first place," Frey-McClung said.
Researchers asked a similar question on the survey in 2008 and 72 percent of West Virginia adults -- including a majority of smokers -- favored raising the tobacco tax, Frey-McClung said.
Increasing the cost of tobacco is just one tool to reduce consumption, she said.
Smoking bans, a fully funded tobacco prevention program and a media campaign also are important, she said.
"[Marketing is important] to counter the tobacco industry," she said. "They spend enormous amounts of money. They're always trying to recruit new users."