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State, Fed’s Stamp Out Smoking

June 12th, 2009 by flanews

Legislation to curb smoking is headed to President Barack Obama’s desk. Today the House passed a bill that would cut the amount of nicotine allowed in tobacco and require stronger warning labels on cigarette packages. As Whitney Ray tells us, the war on smoking isn’t just being fought in Congress, soon Florida will raise it’s tobacco tax.

With the stroke of a pen Governor Charlie Crist approved a dollar tax increase on every pack of cigarettes sold in Florida.

“Ronald Reagan used to say if you want to kill something tax it. Well maybe it wouldn’t be bad if we killed smoking,” said Governor Charlie Crist after signing the state budget last month.

The increase will go into effect in July, but smokers are already feeling the pressure.

“I believe they are just trying to make everyone quit smoking,” said Chastity Dixon.

“I don’t want to feel like I’m being forced to quit, but at the same time I can’t afford to keep smoking,” said Derek Young, who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day.

The increase comes just months after the federal tobacco tax was raised 61 cents. Now a second wave of anti-smoking legislation is heading to the Presidents desk.

This week Congress voted for stronger warning labels on cigarette packages. They also want to limit the amount of nicotine in a cigarette. The American Lung Association says cutting the nicotine will help people quit.

“If you can get the addictive product out of tobacco hopefully people will have an easier time quitting,” said Brenda Olsen, a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association of Florida.

Still many don’t want to quit.

“Is it good for your health? No, but at the same time you should be able to do what you want,” said Smoker Robert Dixon.

But if doing what you want is smoke, Congress and the state have a target on your back. The cigarette tax increase will generate an estimated one billion dollars for the state.

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