Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Council Mulls Passing Highest Cigarette Tax in Nation

Taxes on a pack could be $7.42




    Lighting up in Chicago could soon translate to a heavier hit to your wallet.

    The Chicago City Council held a hearing Wednesday on a cigarette tax that will make the combined federal, state, county and city tax rate $7.42 a pack -- the highest in the nation.

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    Convenience store operators do not support the new tax hike because they're worried that smokers will cut back on purchases. Tobacco sales add up to 40 percent of the stores' total revenue.

    But supporters also spoke out in favor of the increased tax.

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    "Smoking increases health costs for everyone," Dr. Carolyn Lopez said at the hearing.

    Ald. Brendan Reilly opposes the cigarette tax, worried that Chicagoans will go outside of Illinois to buy cigarettes, and other goods.

    The tax is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2014 budget, which the full council will vote on in two weeks.