Illinois Cigarette Tax Hike Takes Effect - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Illinois Cigarette Tax Hike Takes Effect

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Smokers are paying more to buy cigarettes in Illinois. A new tax on went into effect on Sunday. Before the tax increase, the tax was 98 cents for each pack of cigarettes. Now, it's a dollar higher at $1.98. 

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says the tax hike was necessary to save Medicaid. The tax increase is expected to raise some $350 million more a year, which will be matched by federal funds, allowing Illinois to put an additional $700 million toward the state's troubled system of health care for the poor.

Some Illinois residents think the increase will not only bring money to the state, but also be a great way to get people to stop smoking.

"I think it's a good incentive for those who do smoke to not smoke, and maybe to those who are thinking about smoking to not (start), said Katie Brecht, a non-smoker. "I don't know, I think it's one way and an easy way to get a little more revenue that Illinois desperately needs right now and it also encourages people not to start a horrible habit, she added.

Smoker Bob Dick disagrees and says the state is picking on the wrong group of people.

"I think they should lower it. I think they shouldn't raise the cigarette tax, I think they should raise, instead of picking on us smokers, they should be picking on the drinkers.

Governor Quinn also hopes the measure will encourage people to stop smoking or to never start. But Quad City smokers say it will simply force them to buy cigarettes across state lines. The cigarette tax in Iowa is $1.36 a pack.