Gov. Sanford snuffs out cigarette tax

The cost per pack under the legislation would increase from 7 cents to 57 cents.

Governor Mark Sanford snuffed out the bill that would have increased the nation TMs lowest cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack.

The legislation would have raised more than a billion dollars over 10 years: $125 million would be used to help fund the state TMs Medicaid programs. $10 million would be split between cancer research and smoking cessation programs, and $1 million would go towards agriculture product marketing.

Tuesday TMs decision by Sanford did not come as surprise to lawmakers.

Nothing new there, says Rep. Anton Gunn, Mark Sanford has been opposed to the cigarette tax since the first day he took office.

Surrounded by supporters, Sanford announced at a press conference Tuesday, he TMs in favor of increasing the cigarette tax as long as there is an equal tax cut to go with it.

The big question is simply this -- can our economy at this point afford a $1.3 billion tax increase over the next 10 years? Our vote is no, said Sanford.

The cigarette tax tug-of-war doesn TMt end in the governor TMs office; it now goes back to the legislature.

I have got a lot of soul searching to do before I vote for it or against it, said Sen. Jake Knotts.

If legislators override the veto, South Carolina would be the 22nd state to raise its cigarette tax in the last two years.