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Preckwinkle: Cigarette Tax Hike Would Save Lives

CHICAGO (CBS) -- County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Tuesday that she's not simply trying to raise revenue by seeking a $1-per-pack cigarette tax hike, she's trying to save lives.

WBBM Newsradio's John Cody reports Preckwinkle proposed the cigarette tax hike as part of her plan to close a $268 million shortfall in the county's nearly $3 billion budget for next year.

The move would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes in Chicago to $6.67 –second only to the $6.86 tax on cigarettes in New York City.

The per-pack Chicago cigarette tax would break down this way: $3 in county taxes, $1.98 in state taxes, $1.01 in federal taxes, and 68 cents in city taxes.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's John Cody Reports


But at a news conference at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County on Tuesday, Preckwinkle presented statistics presented by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which asserts the higher tax would save 10,300 Cook County residents from premature death from smoking.

Preckwinkle said the tax would persuade 16,000 adults to kick the habit, and discourage thousands of youths from taking up smoking.

"There will be a 7.2 percent drop in youth smoking," she said. "18,400 young people will never become addicted as adult smokers."

She asserted the tax plan is a good cause.

"The money generated by this proposed cigarette tax will allow us to invest in critical functions of our public health system, such as our trauma unit," she said.

Preckwinkle's office has estimated the cigarette tax hike would generate $25 million in new annual revenue.

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