Quinn ties cigarette tax hike to health benefits

CHICAGO (AP) -- Illinois governors repeatedly have aimed at the same target for more money to address the state's financial gap -- cigarette smokers.

But for the first time, Gov. Pat Quinn has floated the idea of tying a cigarette tax hike to improving health care.

The Democrat says a $1-per-pack increase would bring in nearly $700 million -- including federal matching funds -- to help close a $2.7 billion Medicaid short fall, with the benefits going well beyond.

Quinn and health experts say raising the price gives smokers incentive to quit and deters young people from starting.

But the plan has raised questions about whether a hike could curb smoking, if it's a sensible funding source and if it will just push people to go out of state to shop.

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