ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - The cost of smoking for people who buy their cigarettes in Illinois is about to jump by $1 per pack. Lawmakers approved the tax hike to help close a multi-billion dollar hole in the state's Medicaid budget.
Governor Pat Quinn thanked lawmakers and says he will sign the bill. The governor also claims the higher cost of cigarettes will help 60,000 people quit smoking and keep 80,000 young people from starting to smoke.
The tax increase is not without controversy. Some say it's too much and unfair while others, including representatives from the American Lung Association, say it's the right thing to do.
Officials have already approved spending cuts of roughly $1.6 billion. This cigarette tax is supposed to generate about $350 million to be matched by the federal government. So there is a net increase of $700 million that can go towards cutting the Medicaid budget shortfall.
Also, other tobacco products may see a tax increase as well.