South Carolina - cigarette tax raised 50 cents to 57 cents/pack..

May 13, 2010 - The S.C. Senate today raised the cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack, ended the Palmetto State's status as having the lowest cigarette tax in the nation.

The Senate voted 33-13 to override Gov. Mark Sanford's veto of a measure raising the tax 57 cents a pack effective July 1.

The Senate vote follows Wednesday's overwhelming House vote overriding Sanford, and was met with a round of applause in both the Senate and the State House's packed lobby.

Cigarette tax supporters saw the passage as the end of a more than 10-year journey to raise the levy on cigarettes.

The tax is expected to raise $125 million in new revenue, which is supposed to be dedicated to health care for the poor in South Carolina.

If the importance of the vote were in question, Orangeburg Sen. John Matthews, came into the Senate Chamber for the first time in more than a month, in a wheel chair and on a cane, to cast a vote. Matthews, the longest serving African American in the Senate, has been out with a back injury.

That’s because South Carolina lawmakers today overrode a veto by Gov. Mark Sanford and raised the state’s tobacco tax, which had been the nation’s lowest, from 7 cents per pack of cigarettes to 57 cents. The tax hike, effective July 1, is expected to raise nearly $125 million for the state’s Medicaid program.

Missouri now has nation’s lowest cigarette tax at 17 cents per pack. Runner-up is Virginia at 30 cents. The tax in Kansas is 79 cents per pack. The national average is $1.34. Rhode Island, at $3.46 per pack, has the highest tax. (Missouri now has nation’s lowest cigarette tax, Kansas, 5/13/2010.) Missouri - one of the most tobacco-friendly state in the U.S.A..

Reference: Senate overrides Sanford's cig tax veto, Roddie Burris,
The State, 5/13/2010.

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