SC Senate beats veto, raises lowest US smoke tax

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina no longer has the nation's lowest cigarette tax after lawmakers voted to override a veto and raise the cost by 50 cents a pack.

Thursday's vote increases the levy from 7 cents to 57 cents a pack on July 1 and leaves Missouri with the nation's lowest tax at 17 cents.

The 33-13 vote in the Senate followed a 90-29 vote in the House on Wednesday after Gov. Mark Sanford had said he wouldn't allow the increase unless some other tax was cut. The governor and House and
Senate majorities are all Republicans.

The measure raises nearly $125 million to cover the loss of federal bailout cash next year in Medicaid programs for the elderly, disabled and poor. It also is expected to generate $5 million each for cancer research and efforts to curb smoking and $1 million for agriculture marketing.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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