NEW YORK - JUNE 11: A man smokes outside of a building on June 11, 2009 in New York, New York. The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate the production, sale, and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Smokers are one step closer to a price increase after the Illinois Senate approved a plan to raise tobacco taxes by $1 to strengthen the state Medicaid program.
Following a House vote on Friday that passed the plan with a 60-52 vote, the tax increase made its way through the Senate with a 31-27 vote. Now all that stands between the hike and the smoker is the governor, who originally posited the idea.
"The cigarette tax is not just good fiscal policy, but good health policy. Adding a dollar per pack will help 60,000 people quit smoking, prevent 60,000 deaths from smoking-related conditions and keep 80,000 kids from taking up smoking in the first place," Quinn said in a statement.
If it becomes law, cigarette taxes would more than double to $1.98 a pack. Other tobacco products, such as roll-your-own cigarettes, would see a similar tax increase, as well.
The same bill creates a special property tax benefit to hospitals that would then be matched by the federal government and returned to the state.
In all, it's supposed to raise $800 million a year for the Medicaid program.