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Cigarette Tax Increase Could Eliminate Budget Problems, Advocates Say

Posted May 10, 2005

— Legislators and advocates for a 75-cent increase in the cigarette tax say problems with the state Senate budget could be eliminated if the state House agreed to a higher tax.

The Senate budget approved last week would raise the current tax on a pack of cigarettes from 5 cents to 40 cents.

Speakers representing the North Carolina Alliance for Health said raising the tax further could restore some Senate budget cuts to Medicaid that advocates have criticized.

Alliance chairman Lynette Tolson said the group predicts youth smoking would also be reduced by 17 percent in North Carolina if the tax grows by 75 cents.

The increase also would generate more than $385 million in new revenues from tobacco users. The Senate's 35-cent hike would raise about $200 million dollars.

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