SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM) – Smokers will see an increase in the price of their habit soon, if the Illinois Coalition against Tobacco gets its way.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Brian Seay reports, a $1 tax hike per pack of cigarettes would $400 million for the state, and prevent 78,000 Illinois kids from taking up smoking, according to a report by the coalition.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Brian Seay Reports
University of Illinois at Chicago economics professor Frank Chaloupka drafted the report. He said not only would the state collect more money, it would also spend less on Medicaid.
“Because of the reduction in tobacco use, we’d also see significant reductions in the health care costs that the state’s spending to treat diseases caused by tobacco use,” Chaloupka said. “I estimate in the first year alone that that would be over $50 million.”
The cigarette tax increase proposal would raise the tax from 98 cents to $1.98
It has already passed the state Senate. State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) said if the bill does not pass the state House of Representatives during the lame duck session, he will bring it up when the new General Assembly starts up in a couple of weeks.
With the current state, county and city taxes, the price of a pack of cigarettes is close to $10 in some parts of Chicago.
Advocates of cigarette tax hikes say they save lives. But critics often predict higher cigarette prices would drive more people to buy their cigarettes in neighboring states.