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Anti-Smoking Advocates Urge Conn. Lawmakers To Raise Cigarette Tax By Nearly $1

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) - Health and youth advocates want Connecticut lawmakers to raise cigarette taxes by 95 cents a pack, saying it would reduce smoking and help close the state's budget deficit.

Advocates called on the legislature and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday to include the higher cigarette tax in the state's new two-year budget.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, the polls show that seventy percent of voters questioned support raising the cigarette tax.

Anti-Smoking Advocates Urge Conn. Lawmakers To Raise Cigarette Tax By Nearly $1

State Rep. Matthew Lesser says the idea is to raise the tax per pack to $4.35. Lesser is convinced the price per pack would discourage many young smokers from picking up the habit in the first place.

"The largest single part of our state budget goes towards health care costs and reducing the number of people who smoke reduces the number of people who have smoking related diseases and saves taxpayers money," Lesser told Schneidau. "You hear about the lives that this will save. I had 10 close members of my family die of tobacco-related diseases. This is something that hits home to many families in the state."

The added tax would generate an additional $50 million in tax revenue for the state, Lesser said.

Other backers of the tax, including the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, say it would prevent children from becoming smokers and prompt adults to quit.

Lesser said it's unclear whether lawmakers will vote on the cigarette tax before the session ends on June 5. He said his is prepared to vote in favor if and when it comes up for a vote.

The state's current cigarette tax is $3.40 a pack.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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