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Some N.C. Lawmakers Want To Raise Cigarette Tax To Balance Budget

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Some lawmakers believe the state should increase the tax on cigarettes to help balance the budget.

Six bills supporting an increase in cigarette tax were introduced at the Legislative Building Tuesday. The bills range from an increase of 25 cents to $1 per pack. The tax is currently 5 cents a pack, which is the third lowest in the country. Only Kentucky and Virginia have lower taxes.

State lawmakers are battling a $2 billion budget crisis and they are facing cutbacks in many statewide programs.

"We don't need to choose between excellent proven programs because we do have a source of money and that is the tobacco tax. Tough times call for tough decisions and courageous actions and right now, we need bold leadership," said Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange.

"We have a financial crisis in this state. There is no question about that. We are going to have to bite the bullet and people talk about this being an election year and you can't raise taxes in an election year, I think that is a lot of baloney," said Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham.

A state anti-smoking group says an increase of 50 cents would generate more than $380 million a year.


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