Cigarette Tax Hike Not Likely to Happen

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Health care advocates are pushing for a higher cigarette tax. They want to raise the tax by 95-cents. The current rate is $3.40 per pack.

    The hike is something 70 percent of voters support, according to advocacy groups, who released the findings of a poll on Wednesday.

    The American Cancer Society said the increased tax will spur 11,000 adults to quit smoking and prevent about the same number of kids from starting.

    "I see way too many Connecticut residents whose lives are adversely affected by cigarettes," Connie Dills, a respiratory therapist, said.

    Advocates said the increased tax would also been a boon for the state. They estimate it would bring in $50 million annually.

    "This is a health care proposal that both saves lives and helps saves other important public health programs," Kevin O'Flaherty, of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said.

    Right now the average price for a pack of cigarettes is $8. Smokers and shop owners are not on board with the idea. When the tax went up a few years ago sales at the Smoker's Den in Hartford dropped about 50 percent.

    "I think it's very bad for business, it's very bad for business," Sam Rayaski, the owner, said.

    There are only three weeks left in the legislative session and the prospects for a proposal like this look dim.

    "It's something we would consider but I think it's coming a little bit late in the game, frankly," Brendan Sharkey, the Speaker of the House, said.

    In comparison with neighboring states Connecticut's cigarette tax ranks third. New York is $4.35 per pack, Rhode Island is $3.50 per pack, Connecticut is $3.40 per pack and Massachusetts is $2.51 per pack.