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    North Carolina Faces Tax Hikes

    AARP pushes for price increases on cigarettes and alcohol.

    RALEIGH, N.C. -- The North Carolina chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) called on state legislators yesterday to raise taxes on alcohol and cigarettes rather than reduce health-care spending.

    The group, which works on behalf of people 50 and older, released a survey, which it said showed support for increasing the tax hikes raising an additional $330 million. The poll, commissioned by the AARP and conducted by the Southeastern Institute of Research, showed that 62 percent of North Carolinians 18 years old and older would choose a 25-cent-per pack cigarette tax increase over cuts in health care. Eighty-three percent of respondents favored the increases in alcohol taxes over spending reductions in health-care programs.

    The AARP proposal calls for increasing the state excise tax on a pack of cigarettes from 5 cents to 30 cents. It also would impose a 3-cent tax on a serving of beer and wine, and a 7-cent tax on drinks with liquor, the Associated Press reported.

    The AARP wants lawmakers to avoid cuts to in-home health-care services and other health-care programs that serve the elderly and disabled. Lawmakers are considering cuts to such services as a way to balance the state budget in the face of slowing tax collections. In all, they are expected to cut more than $1 billion from the second year of the two-year state budget approved last year.

    The survey of 810 people had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

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