Dollar-a-pack cigarette tax hike goes to governor

Dollar-a-pack cigarette tax hike goes to governor

SPRINGFIELD -- Senators approved and sent to Gov. Pat Quinn a bill that will more than double Illinois' 98-cents-a-pack cigarette tax, and also doubles the levy on other tobacco products such as cigars and pipe tobacco.

The legislation (SB 2194) increasing the cigarette tax to $1.98 per pack was approved 31-27, despite "no" votes from all four senators representing areas of East Central Illinois.

No Senate Republicans voted for the bill, although last week 18 GOP members of the Illinois House supported it.

The tobacco tax increase will raise a projected $350 million in state tax funds, plus another $350 million in federal matching funds to help cover Medicaid expenses. Supporters say it will help close a $2.7 billion hole in Illinois' Medicaid budget. Most of the rest of the money will come from slashing the number of people receiving Medicaid benefits.

Quinn, who said he would sign the bill, hailed its approval, saying it would "decrease smoking-related costs to Medicaid," which he claimed amounted to $1.5 billion last year.

"This legislation 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," said the governor.

"By working together to pass these bills, strong progress has been made in our mission to restructure Medicaid, so that it serves as a health and wellness system instead of a provider-payment system. As a result our Medicaid system will continue to serve millions of Illinois residents who rely on it."

But Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said the tax increase would hurt Illinois' economy, especially in border areas like his. With the increases, only Michigan and Wisconsin, among Midwestern states, will have a higher cigarette tax than Illinois. Missouri's, the lowest in the nation, is 17 cents a pack. The national average is $1.46 per pack.

"Five of the 12 counties I represent now sit on the Illinois-Indiana border," Righter said. "This makes it more likely that people will go over, and when they go over to buy their carton of cigarettes, they'll go over and shop, and fill up their car with gas and go out to eat. And so the business owners in my district lose that commerce.

"But from a broader fiscal perspective this is another tax increase that brings new money into Springfield that the state's leaders will spend. Every dollar you bring in to fuel new spending is a dollar you don't have to cut, and that's going in the wrong direction."

Righter said he preferred making $700 million more in cuts, either in Medicaid or in some other state program.

Frerichs, one of the few Democrats to vote against the tax increase, said it "would put Danville at a disadvantage" because of lower tobacco prices across the Indiana border. Danville is in Frerichs' Senate district.

"Number two, most smokers tend to be working-class people, and I think this is a tax on our poorer citizens," he said.

Asked the difference between voting against the cigarette tax Tuesday but for an income tax increase in January 2011, Frerichs said "the income tax was applied fairly to the people of Illinois. This is a tax on a small percentage of the people of Illinois."

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Sid Saltfork wrote on May 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Sen. Dale Righter pushed hard for the Medicaid cuts on the elderly, the disabled, and the poor.  Now, he complains about the increase in the cigarette tax.  Go figure......    Maybe, he will push for a 2 cent tax on funeral homes for dead grandmothers next.

prideCU wrote on May 29, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I would wager that many of these people would not need medicaid if cigarettes were heavily taxed. ;D Prevention is key.

sameeker wrote on May 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm

How much do you weigh? How much do you exercise every day? Do you drive an electric car? What kind of food do you eat? Do you drink? Do you donate to a church that does not pay their taxes? If you don't answer those questions properly, then keep you fingers out of my wallet and start paying your fair share.

bluegrass wrote on May 31, 2012 at 4:05 pm

When the tax is on others, it is defined as "fair share."  When it is on you, it is described as "fingers in my wallet."

rsp wrote on May 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I really don't understand the logic. Most of the people on medicaid are children, who usually don't smoke anyway. So they aren't affected by the tax. They are affected when the state won't pay the dentist, or the doctor, or for any medications they may need. Eyeglasses, not covered. The job doesn't provide insurance, child support is minimal, and day care is expensive. Where's my magic wand?

sameeker wrote on May 30, 2012 at 7:05 am

Polititian 1 - I'm bored. What can we do today?

Polititian 2 - So am I. Let's find some poor people to beat up on.

Polititian 1 - Isn't that getting old?

Polititian 2 - I guess, but we have nothing better to do.

Polititian 1 - Why don't we put a tax on political contributions?

Politition 2 - BITE YOUR TONGUE!!!!

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 30, 2012 at 11:05 am

sameeker;  Funny, and true. :)

illini_trucker wrote on May 30, 2012 at 9:05 am

"Frerichs, one of the few Democrats to vote against the tax increase, said it "would put Danville at a disadvantage" because of lower tobacco prices across the Indiana border. Danville is in Frerichs' Senate district."


Well... At least Mr Frerichs isn't all that dumb. My job being on Lynch Rd, I think the Pilot Truck Stop at exit 4 in the Hoosier just became my new supplier and earned my business!!! And the whole time exit 4 thought I only went there for some REAL fireworks!!! All Illinois has to do is levy a higher food and gas tax and it'll probably lose my consumerism altogether!! Lolz!! Enjoy your tax hike boys! It may not be the Tea Party of the 18th century, but citizens still find their ways of saying "go eff yourselves!!" lol!

illini_trucker wrote on May 30, 2012 at 9:05 am

But it's OKAY!!! Illinois isn't the ONLY dumb state with idiotic politicians!! Nah, I think Tennessee has that base covered quite well. TN kept raising and raising and raising their sales tax... KNOWING!!! that ALL of its major cities lie on the state border!!! Sometimes politicians just humor me! $100,000+ dollars a year salary to force me to conduct my business in another State. Congrats idiots!! Before ya know it, a State to State PASSPORT will be required with Duties Taxable... God bless and long live the land of the free!!!

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 30, 2012 at 11:05 am

It will increase the smuggling of contraband.  The little towns on the border will see an increase in traffic.  Old RVs driven by old people will be "touring" the back roads.  It is a non-taxable income in old age.

Mark Taylor wrote on May 30, 2012 at 11:05 am


I'll gladly fill up my tank and drive 30+ miles to save a buck on a pack of cigs. Take that you silly self defeating politicians.


novanut wrote on May 30, 2012 at 11:05 am

I to will be going across state lines for my smokes.Im tired of every time this state needs money for another program we dump on the smoker.Il try to remember that when i see an over weight person heading into a fast food place to add to the problem of health care.

scollins4443 wrote on May 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm
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You folks don't get it. The taxes will go to pensions, raises, benefits and vacation pay for civil servants. Where are they getting the matching figures from, about the 60,000 people who are affected for medicaid vs. smoking? Cigarettes are a habit like drinking and they put that burden on people with habits to squirm out of paying benefits to public servants. If you don't smoke so what. Are these people (non-smokers) putting their fair share of taxes into this pool?No! It's just as many or more on medicaid. So, these smokers are being singled out to pay taxes on a state shortfall for medicaid. That's a discriminatory practice if I have ever saw one. Think about it. So, the government should tax non -smokers so the can put in their fair share. Then the money would be doubled, right? Then we could really cater to the children to not even to start smoking. This is all a big smoke-screen for public servants!

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm

The last tax increase did not go to the pension payments.  The state employees signed contract with the governor two years ago was not honored by the governor.  They did not get the 2% raises as agreed to in the contract.  The governor reneged on the signed contract.  State employees get earned vacation time the same as employees in the private sector.  The tax on cigarettes is going to the Medicaid payments; not to the pension payments.  Please look at the facts in previous news articles.  Please let up on the "civil servants" blame, and hatred.

amf wrote on May 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm

There is no "fair share" of a voluntary tax.  A smoker's share and a non-smoker's share is equal - $0.  If you choose to pay more, then that's your choice.  


novanut wrote on May 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

OK....thats right il go out of state.Il give mine to ind. and watch the money leave ill.

Mark Taylor wrote on May 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm

That's right. Me too. And I don't care how much gas I burn doing it. I'm gonna save me that $1 per pack of coffin nails.

sameeker wrote on May 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm

It is time to fight back. We need to start pushing for a tax on political contributions. That will hit them where it hurts. The tax should be a matching tax on ALL political contributions. If someone donates $1,000, then they would have to pay a matching tax of $1,000. It is time for us to stand up and fight. I too will spend my money in Indiana.

Brownie wrote on May 30, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I love the "more like this" section to the right of the story.  Lot's of times I've noticed that they don't have a lot to do with the story.  The one I'm seeing at the top says "Wind Advisory Today".  Does that refer to the politicians?  Perhaps it's the exhalation of smoke.  Could it even be some of these comments?

rsp wrote on May 31, 2012 at 12:05 am

That's all that hot air out of Springfield trying to make us think they are doing something to earn their pay. If that was true one of the first things would have been freezing their own pay and sharing the pain. But that didn't happen because they are just full of it. 

RLW wrote on May 30, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I am so tired of being discriminated just because I smoke. Stop picking on us and start raising the taxes on alcohol like you have on ciggs. Do you know how much alcohol get sold every day? Alot!

illini_trucker wrote on June 01, 2012 at 6:06 am

It's okay.. Sure I have medicaid... Illinois gets some of my income tax. But cigarette tax is out. Since I buy cigs at gas stations like almost any other smoker, gas tax is out. But hey... I got a LINK Card, so the food has to still be bought in Illinois. But then again... Food bought on LINK is TAX-FREE! At a minimum wage job with full custody of one child, I guess this is all that's left to say.. Enjoy my $24 a year income tax, Illinois!!! Oh wait, I guess they get license plate fees once a year too... Lolz!

Mark Taylor wrote on June 01, 2012 at 9:06 am

I know, right? What the dang heck right does the govermint have collecting taxes just cause they provide services like roads and police and medicaid and worthless stuff like that?

Taxers are nothing but theft. We all know govermint services don't cost anything! I shouldn't have to pay one dang dime in taxes but I better get all the services I'm used to or I'll raise holy heck!!


RLW wrote on June 01, 2012 at 12:06 pm





Mark Taylor wrote on June 01, 2012 at 6:06 pm

That's right. There should be a cap on how much taxes anyone pays. After you pay up a certain amount, you should be permanently expemt from all other taxes, no matter what you consume. It doesn't matter at all that smoking costs society money cause of so many smoke breaks, health problems, and premature deaths. Society can suck up the increased health care and insurance costs -- we smokers shouldn't have to pay for just cause we're the ones that choose to smoke.

And you're also right about booze -- we all know there's absolutely no tax on alcohol in this state. What's up with that?

rsp wrote on June 01, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Don't forget we still pay to support tobacco farmers. Otherwise those farmers would have to find something else to plant. Or lose the farm, or quit sharecropping. So even without the taxes tobacco is artificially priced. 

illini_trucker wrote on June 01, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Ah holy heck... Now comments are in caps! And I woke up all the smarty pants! I apologize for my shortcomings! I should've just bit my tongue and said at the end of the week, my final cigarette and gasoline receipt will say "Thank you for shopping at Pilot in Covington, Indiana!" and shoulda left it at that! Sorry guys/gals!!

rsp wrote on June 01, 2012 at 9:06 pm

I just quit when they were $35 a carton so that was $140 a month, $1680 a year. It's been 15 years so if the price hadn't changed that would be $25,200. This year alone would be $3,640 if I was still smoking. I was getting pneumonia every year when I smoked, and after I quit I haven't had that happen again. But I found out I've had asthma, go figure. But it has gotten better without smoking so my lungs are getting better.

woopitydo wrote on June 03, 2012 at 1:06 am

Hey Illini Trucker didnt you comment on the minimum wage increase article that you were so destitute that you couldnt even save $25 to take your kid camping? Maybe quit smoking and save all the money you pour into cigarettes to take your kid camping. I actually was slightly sympathetic for you until now.

rsp wrote on June 03, 2012 at 2:06 am

That $25 comes to what four packs? What are your priorities?!?! Are you expecting Illini Trucker to go without? Just so a child can go camping and have a healthy parent? What kind of example is that for that child?

woopitydo wrote on June 03, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I believe there was a complaint on paying gas prices too. Sounds a little idiotic to not only be willing to smoke a 6 dollar a pack of cigarettes when you claim you can not afford to buy food then be willing to drive an extra 30 miles to Indiana to purchase said cigarettes to save one to two dollars. Such irresponsible citizens in the country. Again I am really sorry you cant afford to do special things with your kid. Maybe Ill run into you sometime when I am behind you in the grocery line while you text on your Iphone and pay for your food with the link card and cash for your cigarettes and can personally convey my sympathies :)


signed- a fellow single parent who refuses to treat situation as a disability and survived just fine without aid or child support- it is possible!!




sameeker wrote on June 03, 2012 at 3:06 pm

You uneduacted people have no clue how difficult it is to quit smoking. Heck! If people were corporations, we would be getting big incentive payments to quit. You know, like the way they give corporations "voluntary guidelines" and the people get "laws". Do any of you people really think that the government wants people to quit? If so, why didn't they use some of the billions from the tobacco settlement to provide free treatment to smokers? All the smokers got was an 800 number to call for information. The rest of the money went for pork. I am planning on making another attempt to quit so that I can deny Illinois (and you people) my tax dollars. In the mean time, I will go to Indiana to get them.

prideCU wrote on June 03, 2012 at 4:06 pm

HOGWASH!! I bought my mother a package of patches to stop smoking 4 years ago in agreement that she would continue on with them and she has done wonderfully! Smokers do not stop because they really don't want to! My mother was addicted to cigarettes from the age of 16 until the age of 68, but when she went on the patches and eased off of those, she found something that helped her to quit.

While you are at it, do your smoking in Indiana so that those of us who want to breathe fresh air don't have to choke on your filth.

sameeker wrote on June 03, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Park your stinking vehicle before you start in with the smart talk. Smoking is an addiction. Not everybody can  simply walk away from it, just like you people can't simply walk away from trolling. I have a challenge for you people. we will build two sheds equal to the size of a local bar. In one of them people will be allowed to smoke. In the other one, you and your friends can go and we will hook your vehicle exhaust pipes up to the building and introduce an equal amount of exhaust into the building. Then we will meet outside at the end of the night to see which one had the most health problems. As far as the health department goes, you can do that if you are lucky enough not to wind up on a waiting list. If you people have it in for the smokers, then refuse to use aNY service provided by tax dollars from tobacco sales. Nobody argues taht smoking is healthy; however, neither are a lot of your habits. Everything unhealthy costs society money. I don't want to be driving to Indiana when one of you has a McHeart Attack and causes a pileup on the interstate. Clean up your own back porch before you pick on others.

rsp wrote on June 04, 2012 at 3:06 am

Spoken like a true addict. I ride the MTD, preferrably the hybrid buses, so I can't hook anything up to your shed. If it's close I walk. I'm perfectly healthy. They said that when I was smoking too, back when I was 28, and I had a stroke. The ONLY risk factor I had was my smoking. My blood pressure was and is perfect. Keep telling yourself you can't quit, because that's part of the problem. 

rsp wrote on June 03, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Public health has a quit smoking program. I used to smoke. Not any more.

woopitydo wrote on June 04, 2012 at 8:06 am

I can afford my bad habits and responsibilities ;p

woopitydo wrote on June 04, 2012 at 8:06 am

I have been a smoker for 20 yrs. Do not even try to educate me on the difficulties in quitting etc... I just don't try to find pity or welfare do support my addiction.