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South Carolina Senate Approves Cigarette Tax Increase

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The South Carolina Senate approved a measure to raise the state's lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax. The increase of 50 cents per pack is expected to generate approximately $136.1 million, with the bulk of it going to fund the state's Medicaid programs, according to a report on

Under the plan, adopted by the Senate, the money would be allocated as follows:

-- $5 million to the Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center to be used for tobacco-related cancer research;
-- $5 million for smoking prevention and cessation programs;
-- Roughly $2.7 million to the Department of Agriculture for the marketing of South Carolina produce and to provide assistance in relief from natural disasters affecting state-grown crops;
-- $3.5 million for infrastructure projects in communities along the Interstate 95 corridor, including Marion, Dillon, Marlboro and Florence counties, to spur economic development and job creation; and
-- The balance would go to a trust fund to pay for health care through the state's Medicaid program.

Under the Senate's plan, the state would use the bulk of the funds to combat increased health care costs. For every dollar the state puts into its Medicaid program, it receives at least three from the federal government, the report stated.

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