Burning money

Bill would raise California’s tax on a pack of cigarettes by $2

Smoking cigarettes may become an even more expensive habit in California as a new bill introduced by state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) would add a $2 tax to each pack sold in the state.

Currently, the state tax on a pack of cigarettes is 87 cents—a tax rate that 32 states exceed—and the federal tax is $1.01, according to California Healthline. Senate Bill 591 is primarily designed to discourage smoking, but it would also raise an estimated $1.4 billion annually to fund expanded smoking-cessation services for Medi-Cal beneficiaries, research on smoking-related diseases and smoking-prevention efforts.

If the measure isn’t approved by the Legislature, supporters say they’ll bring it before California’s voters on the November 2016 ballot. In that case, it would require a two-thirds vote and Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature to become law.