Cigarette tax hike debated

Cigarette tax hike debated Click to Enlarge Photo:

Feb 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) An influential Minnesota House Democrat wants to more than double the state's cigarette tax.

Rep. Ann Lenczewski of Bloomington says Thursday that she's more motivated by public health concerns than by the tax money that would be raised. She cites studies showing higher-priced cigarettes encourages smokers to quit and discourages potential smokers from starting.

The proposal would raise the state's tax per pack by $1.60, from $1.23 to $2.83. Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a smaller increase of 94 cents per pack. Lenczewski's proposal is projected to raise an additional $440 million in tax dollars in the next two years.

The House Taxes Committee reviewed the proposal but did not vote on it. Critics say it would hurt business for tobacco wholesalers and mom and pop retailers.

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