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Emanuel All But Confirms Cigarette Tax Hike; Cable Could Be Next

dellimore250 Craig Dellimore
Craig Dellimore, political editor for WBBM, joined the station in 1983...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel is all but confirming reports that his new budget, being unveiled Wednesday, will propose raising the City’s cigarette tax by 75 cents, giving Chicago the highest total taxes on smoking in the nation.

WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports.

Mayor Emanuel told a reporter he has a long history dating back to his early White House days of using cigarette taxes to pay for healthcare.

“We’re gonna put a tax as the state did one, as the county did one, but we’re going to use revenue to provide 15,000 children who are Medicaid eligible but not enrolled to get them the healthcare coverage they need and deserve and also to expand eye care coverage to 45,000 children who neither get an eye exam or do not get the eye glasses like you yourself get,” said Emanuel.

Already in Chicago, the total combined federal, state, county and local tax on cigarettes is $6.67 per pack; just behind New York, which has the highest combined cigarette tax rate at $6.86 per pack. If approved, Emanuel’s proposed cigarette tax hike would push the city’s tax rate to $7.42 per pack.

Cigarette tax hikes have proved popular for elected officials at all levels of Illinois government in recent years. The county increased its cigarette tax by $1 per pack earlier this year. The state raised taxes on cigarettes by $1 per pack last year.

The county also raised cigarette taxes by $1 per pack in 2006. The city raised its cigarette tax in two consecutive years in 2005 and 2006.

Another budget shock, one that would affect more people: The mayor wants to hike the amusement tax on cable TV systems from 4 percent to 6 percent, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

There’s a good chance subscribers would foot that bill.

Comcast says they’re studying the proposed hike.