Congress Aims to Snuff Out Smoking

Lawmakers work on tax hike against weakened industry
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2007 2:03 PM CST
A Marlboro cigarette burns as it sits on a pack of cigarettes in this Jan. 31, 2007 file photo in Trenton, N.J. Congress is taking new whacks at the cigarette industry, banning tobacco sales in Senate...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – With the influence of Big Tobacco on the wane, Congress is poised to strike, the AP says. House and Senate negotiators continue work on a plan calling for a hefty federal tax hike on cigarettes, and several other anti-smoking initiatives are in the pipeline. Meanwhile, the once-powerful lobbying arm of the industry remains largely silent, the AP notes.

Congress wants to raise the per-pack tax on cigarettes from 61 cents to $1, a proposal tied to funding for children's health insurance. Bush is against the increase, but lawmakers think they can work it into the insurance bill in a veto-proof way. Not surprisingly, Big Tobacco is opposed, too, but "the industry has tried to do things more quietly, largely because they obviously know how popular a tobacco tax is," says a health advocate.