Chicago poised to have highest cigarette tax in U.S.

Smokers in Chicago may soon pay the highest cigarette taxes in the nation after the City Council votes on the Mayor’s 2014 budget.

The City Council is expected to approve Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $7 billion budget plan today.

That includes a compromise on a cigarette tax hike.

The Mayor agreed to reduce the proposed tax hike to 50-cents a pack from 75-cents Monday.

That puts Chicago on track to have the highest cigarette taxes in the country. With the 50-cent increase, state and local tax, cigarettes sold in Chicago will cost $7.17 a pack.
That is the highest price in the U.S., well ahead of New York City’s $6.86 a pack.

Some aldermen and business owners are concerned this will lead to a drop in city cigarette sales and send buyers to the black market to buy loose cigarettes.

To make up for the $3 million loss in revenue, the city is proposing to raise the fire hydrant violation from $100 to $150 dollars.

The budget committee has tabled a proposal to hire 100 police officers to fight crime in Chicago. The city argues it is cheaper to shell out overtime pay than to hire new officers.

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