Lawmakers raise cigarette taxes across USA

Governor Bill Richardson has plenty of company as he considers raising the state cigarette tax which has become a popular method of revenue enhancement in many other states besides New Mexico.

The state legislature passed a 75 cent per pack increase on the cigarette tax slated to begin on July 1st. Governor Richardson will likely sign the bill which is expected to generate about $33 million a year in revenue for the state’s recession-shrunken bankroll.

New Mexico joins Utah, Kansas, South Carolina, and Georgia that have tobacco tax hikes on their agendas. And during the last year, 16 other states have raised cigarette taxes.

Tony Penate is a smoker who questions the tax’s effectiveness. “The number one cause of preventable deaths in this country is obesity now– not cigarette smoking– so I think I’d like to see a tax on soda before they put another tax on cigarettes.”

Currently, the highest tax imposed on cigarettes is in the state of Rhode Island at $3.46 a pack while South Carolina sets the lowest pack tax at seven cents.

New Mexico’s tax on a pack of cigarettes is 91 cents and would raise to $1.66 a pack under the new legislation.

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