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SC Cigs Get More Costly

As of Thursday, the South Carolina no longer has the nation's lowest cigarette tax. South Carolina's cigarette tax goes from 7 cents to 57 cents a pack. It comes as the state budget gets a $2 billion trim from 2 years ago. Still, Pete Fisher of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says the tax was a tough sell. He say his groups lobbied hard for the increase for the last five or six years. "It sends an important signal to other states in the region and around the country that even a major tobacco-producing state like South Carolina has seen fit to increase its tax by a pretty significant amount," Fisher says. New cigarette taxes are also taking effect in New York, Hawaii, New Mexico and Utah. Fisher says research shows that higher cigarette taxes reduce smoking rates, but he doesn't think that's what's been motivating states to approve hikes. "There's no doubt that the budget situations provide a major opportunity to advocate for these increases. I think it's a major reason why so many states over the last couple years have seen fit to do it," Fisher says. The distinction of having that country's lowest cigarette tax now goes to Missouri at 17 cents a pack, and New York surpasses Rhode Island for the nation's highest rate at $4.35 a pack.