South Carolina - governor vetoes bill to raise tobacco tax..

May 12, 2010 - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford fulfilled his promise Tuesday, May 11th to veto a bill that would have increased the nation's lowest cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack, and called for legislators not to override it.

Sanford was joined by House lawmakers opposed to the bill, along with officials from the state's largest anti-tax group and a convenience store operators association, to announce the veto.

Sanford said that the legislation doesn't include a provision for tax relief that would counter the decrease. "In these difficult economic times," Sanford said, "we believe it would be sheer folly to impose the largest tax increase since 1985."

According to reports from The Associated Press, the House will decide as early as Wednesday, May 12th whether they will override Sanford's veto.

South Carolina's current cigarette tax of 7 cents has been in place since 1977, when a pack cost 48 cents. If the bill would have passed or if the veto is overriden, Missouri would have the lowest cigarette tax at 17 cents a pack, according to figures from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (Missouri - one of the most tobacco-friendly state in the U.S.A.)

Rhode Island currently has the highest cigarette tax, with $3.46 a pack.

The bill's supporters say that the tax hike would create nearly $5 million for cancer research programs and anti-smoking programs. It would also generate $1 million for agriculture product marketing.

And according to The Herald, of Rock Hill, S.C., the tax hike would generate $125 million, primarily for a Medicaid trust fund which could be used when money from the economic stimulus package runs out in July 2012.

But Sanford said the money used from the tax won't be enough to fund Medicare programs, adding that more comprehensive health care reform is necessary. "And indeed this tax hike may end up exacerbating the current problem by pushing needed reform that much further down the road," Sanford said.

The veto also comes on the heels of a recent national study from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention that ranked South Carolina 34th in the number of adult smokers and 37th when it comes to smokers ages 12-17. (CDC - Smoking & Tobacco Use - South Carolina)

CDC officials say that cigarette tax increases, along with anti-tobacco campaigns and laws that ban smoking in public and indoor places, can reduce U.S. smoking rates.

Please remember..The four Republicans running for governor would veto a cigarette tax increase and would push to drill, baby, drill off the coast of South Carolina. The Republican primary is June 8. — Corey Hutchins

Reference: S.C. governor vetoes cigarette tax hike, Dante Mozi, Columbia City Buzz Examiner, 5/11/2009.

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