CHICAGO -- The tax on a pack of cigarettes would rise by $1 in Cook County, Ill., next year, which would leave Chicago with the second-highest per-pack tax in the nation under County board president Toni Preckwinkle's new budget proposal, reported The Chicago Tribune.
Preckwinkle also wants to charge a new 1.25% tax on merchandise worth more than $2,500 purchased outside Cook that is brought into the county. County officials said businesses would bear the brunt of that so-called use tax.
Toni PreckwinkleThe first-term Democrat's $2.95 billion proposed budget also relies on approval of an $800 tax on every slot and video poker machines in the county, a $25 tax on every gun purchase and a nickel-per-bullet tax on ammunition, as well as some smaller taxes and fees.
All the tax and fee increases would raise $43.4 million, according to county projections cited by the newspaper. The cigarette tax alone is expected to raise $25.6 million, it said.
Preckwinkle said the cigarette tax is good government policy because it would deter smoking.
"Cigarettes are the principle cause of preventable disease in this country--respiratory diseases and cancer--and the higher we increase our cigarette prices the more we discourage particularly young people from smoking and save [ourselves] the cost of treating people who are addicted to tobacco and nicotine for the rest of their lives," Preckwinkle told the Tribune editorial board.
If Preckwinkle gets her way, the tax on a pack of cigarettes in Chicago would reach $6.67, leaving it just 19 cents short of New York City's $6.86, according to government statistics cited by the paper.
The current taxes on a pack of cigarettes in Chicago are $2 from Cook County, $1.98 from Illinois, $1.01 from the federal government and 68 cents from the city, the report said.