Illinois’ $1 increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes is now in effect. Sue Hofer, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Revenue, says what is actually happening is the excise tax which wholesalers pay the state is going up, effective the opening of business on Monday. The wholesalers purchase tax stamps from the state, and the cost of those stamps is rising from 98 cents to $1.98. The added dollar, which qualifies for federal matching money, is to help restructure the state’s Medicaid program.
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Hofer says it’s up to the retailer to pass the added cost along to the consumer. Perhaps your local gas station or convenience store has several cartons with the old stamps and will sell them at the old price. Or, perhaps, those stores will sell them at the new price and pocket the difference. Kathy Drea, spokeswoman for the American Lung Association in Illinois, says a 2010 telephone survey in Illinois showed public support for the increase: “74 percent of registered voters supported the cigarette tax, which is huge; you can hardly get 74 percent of the people to agree that the sky is blue,” she said. Drea says 40 percent of smokers in the poll said they supported the increase. Even with the increase, Illinois will not have the highest state cigarette tax in the Midwest: