fdu_public_mind_pollMADISON, NJ - By an almost three-to-two margin, New Jersey registered voters say they disapprove of proposed legislation that would charge shoppers five cents for each plastic bag they use to carry their goods from the store, according to the most recent statewide poll of randomly selected registered voters from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind. Almost 60 percent (56%) are against this added fee, compared with 39 percent who favor the proposed legislation.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, no state has yet to impose a tax or fee on the use of plastic bags. If passed, New Jersey would be the first.

For a majority of respondents, being asked about the plastic bag fee was likely the first time they had heard about it. Fifty-three percent said they knew nothing about the issue, and an additional 22 percent say they’ve heard only a little.

“Although the legislation is designed to minimize the harmful effects of plastic bags on the environment, the added fee for something shoppers have come to expect as a courtesy isn’t sitting well with New Jersey voters,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “When aggregated overtime, the fee’s hit to already stretched budgets sounds too big for a majority of Garden State residents to bear.”

Unlike a variety of other issues that are before the legislature, this measure is widely panned across a variety of demographic groups. Majorities of Democrats and Republicans, men and women, whites and non-whites, and the young and old(er) are against paying for plastic.

“If the legislation passes, it looks like when asked ‘Paper or plastic?’ shoppers will opt for paper and pocket their nickels,” said Jenkins.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 700 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from January 2 through January 6, 2013, and has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.