Updated 03/01/13 – 7:11 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Beginning today, smokers will have to pay an extra $1 per pack for their cigarettes in Cook County.
WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, in Chicago, the total combined federal, state, county and local tax on cigarettes is up to $6.67 per pack; just behind New York, which has the highest combined cigarette tax rate at $6.86 per pack.
In suburban Cook County, the tax on a pack of cigarettes will be only slightly lower than Chicago, at $5.99 per pack
A day ahead of the tax hike, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said the projected $25 million in new annual revenue will go to the county’s hospitals and health centers, which treat more than 300 lung cancer patients each year.
“The revenue generated by this increase will help cover the costs of those who are dealing with the consequences of smoking each year, as well as help fund critical health services,” she said.
Preckwinkle also has said the cigarette tax hike would help save lives by convincing some smokers to kick the habit.
To anyone thinking about buying cigarettes without tax stamps, Preckwinkle pointed out the county has tripled the amount of tobacco inspectors it employs.
The county raids hundreds of businesses each month due to illegal sales of cigarettes that do not bear the required tax stamps.