Proposed Chicago cigarette tax would lead to highest rate in nation

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to increase the cigarette tax by 75 cents a pack -- a move that would raise total taxes to $7.42-per-pack, giving Chicago the highest rate in the nation.  

The proposal was reported by The Chicago Sun-Times. With the cost of a pack of cigarettes between $4 and $5, the tax would push the total cost well above $11. 

Plus, according to the Sun-Times, smokers are already driving across state lines to Wisconsin and Indiana for cheaper cigarettes -- and that could continue. The report said Chicago's cigarette tax revenue has fallen over the years, amid the tax hikes -- from a 2006 high of $32.9 million to $16.5 million now.

Since 2006, Chicago’s cigarette tax has been fixed at 68 cents a pack. This was after back-to-back increases of 20 and 32 cents a pack. The state and county each added on $1 over the last 18 months.

Emanuel reportedly plans to use the estimated $10 million in revenue toward expanding a vision and eye-care program now serving 30,000 Chicago Public School students. He also plans to invest more heavily in after-school and summer jobs programs for at-risk youth.

The mayor will present his proposed budget in his annual budget address on Oct. 23.