Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed increasing the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1 in an effort to reduce a $2.7 billion deficit in the Medicaid program, the State Journal Register reported.
The cigarette tax would generate about $675 million in revenue. The state's current cigarette tax is 96 cents; Quinn's proposal would more than double it.
Aside from raising revenue for a health care program, the thinking goes that such sin taxes are more acceptable because people shouldn't be smoking anyway. Smoking causes about 443,000 deaths a year in the United States, or about one in five of the nation's deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And smoking contributes to yearly health care costs to tune of about $96 billion.
But not everyone thinks such an increase is a good idea.
"We stand with our members on the Medicaid working group against any tax increases to solve our Medicaid crisis," stated a press release from Republican Senate Leader Christine Radogno and Republican House Leader Tom Cross.
On Thursday, House Speaker Michael Madigan told the Chicago Tribune that he doubted the measure would pass.