House overrides Sanford's cigarette tax hike veto

The South Carolina House has overridden Gov. Mark Sanford's veto of a 50 cent increase in the nation's lowest cigarette tax.

The House voted 90-29 to reject the veto Wednesday, a day after the Republican governor rejected the bill to raise the 7 cents per pack tax.

The chamber erupted in applause after the vote. A two-thirds majority vote is also required in the Senate before the increase becomes law. It's unclear when the Senate will vote.

Sanford opposes raising the cigarette tax unless some other tax is decreased.

Legislators want to use nearly $125 million from the higher tax to cover the loss of federal bailout cash next year in Medicaid programs for the elderly, disabled and poor. The measure also would generate $5 million each for cancer research and efforts to curb smoking.

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