Cigarette Tax Increases To Fund Massachusetts Health Insurance Law
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) on Tuesday signed into law a bill that increases the state cigarette tax by $1 per pack, the AP/Boston Globe reports. The increase, which brings the tax to $2.51, took effect immediately. On Monday, the bill was approved by the state House and Senate by votes of 93-52 and 26-9, respectively. The increase is expected to generate $174 million in revenue, which will be used to help offset the higher-than-expected costs of the Massachusetts health insurance law.
Opponents of the tax say the increase unfairly targets smokers who cannot quit and will hurt small businesses that sell cigarettes near the New Hampshire border, where the cigarette tax is $1.08 per pack but could reach $1.33 in October (Leblanc, AP/Boston Globe, 7/1).
In addition, state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei said the tax increase sends the message that the state is depending on smokers to continue smoking in order to pay for Commonwealth Care. He said, "If you smoke already, please continue to smoke and if you don't smoke, maybe you should start smoking." Sen. Harriette Chandler (D) said the tax is designed to be a disincentive as well as a source of revenue (Leblanc, AP/Nashua Telegraph, 7/1).
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