Corzine Contemplating $3 Cigarette Tax for N.J.

Suburban Cook County, Ill., enacts smoking ban

TRENTON, N.J. -- Smokers in New Jersey might see more of their money go toward taxes. The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Governor Jon Corzine is considering a 60-cent increase in the state's cigarette tax.

New Jersey's cigarette tax has been raised three times since 2002. At $2.40, it's the nation's second highest. If a new increase is proposed and passed by the state legislature, smokers would pay $3 a pack in taxesthe highest in the nation.

Lobbyist Dale Florio told the newspaper he would wage a campaign to stop the increase [image-nocss] because he said it is destroying convenience stores.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, bars, restaurants and virtually all other indoor workplaces in the suburbs of Chicago also located in Cook County have a new smoking ban set to hit next year, reported the Sun-Times.

County commissioners voted 13 to 3 Wednesday to approve a ban that mandates buildings be smoke-free unless a local government has its own version of a smoking ban. There are more than 100 Cook County cities and villages that have no such ban.

The county ban, which takes effect March 15, 2007, will not cover nursing homes or private clubs such as the Elks, Moose and VFW lodges and country clubs, and it will not exempt bars or places even if they install smoke filters.

The move comes on the heels of the county balancing its $3 billion budget by raising its cigarette tax to $2 per pack, the report said.

The ban's chief sponsor, Commissioner Mike Quigley, wanted it put into effect in 60 days, but relented to other commissioners. He said those commissioners pushing the delay are responsible for more death and illness.

In addition to unincorporated areas, the ban affects all but about 14 communities which have already passed some kind of restriction, although others are now expected to quickly move with their own plans, said the Sun-Times.