Failure by the Legislature to approve an increase in the state's cigarette tax — and override a threatened veto by the governor — would be a shameful and irresponsible lapse on the part of lawmakers.
Support for raising the 7-cent-per-pack tax, the lowest in the nation, is strong in both houses. And unlike many proposed tax increases, this one has the support of a large majority of the public.
There also is a desperate need for the revenues that would be produced by raising the cigarette tax. Most of it would be used to pay the state's share of Medicaid obligations a year from now when federal stimulus money runs out.
And on top of that, raising the tax would have the added benefit of discouraging thousands of South Carolina teenagers from taking up the smoking habit and encouraging many adults to quit.
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