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SC lawmakers override governor's veto and raise cigarette tax

South Carolina has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, but soon that will change. South Carolina lawmakers overrode a governor's veto yesterday to officially raise the state's cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack. For years the tax has been just 7 cents a pack so it's no wonder people will drive for hours to get their smokes in South Carolina. But they better hurry, because starting July 1 that tax will be 57 cents - even higher than North Carolina's per-pack tax of 45 cents. South Carolina lawmakers say they need the revenue. The tax should raise more than $125 million a year to fund health care programs for the elderly, poor and disabled. Some of the money will also go toward cancer research. At 57 cents, South Carolina's cigarette tax now ranks in the middle of the pack, so to speak. Missouri's is now the lowest at 17 cents. Smokers in Rhode Island pay the highest state tax - $3.46.