Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Gov. Quinn Ties Cigarette Tax Hike to Health Benefits

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Gov. Quinn Ties Cigarette Tax Hike to Health Benefits

Article excerpt

CHICAGO... Whether successful or not, Illinois governors repeatedly have aimed at the same target for additional money to address the state's financial gap - cigarette smokers. But for the first time, Gov. Pat Quinn has floated the idea of tying a cigarette tax hike to improving health care. The Democrat says a $1- per-pack increase would bring in nearly $700 million - including federal matching funds - to help close a $2.7 billion Medicaid short fall, with the benefits going beyond.

The thinking goes like this: Raising the price of cigarettes gives smokers incentive to quit and deters young people from starting. Since there'll be fewer smokers, the costs of treating smoking-related diseases should drop.

But the plan, essentially to double the cigarette tax, has raised questions about whether such a hike could indeed curb smoking, if it's a sensible funding source as the number of smokers dwindles, and if it would simply drive smokers to buy cigarettes elsewhere. …

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