Philadelphia Residents May Soon Cough Up More to Smoke, Drink

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 01:29 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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No ifs, and, or butts about it, residents of Philadelphia may soon pay more to smoke and drink.

Under a proposal by Mayor Michael Nutter, the city's tax would grow 10 to 15 percent by the drink and a pack of cigarettes would cost $2 more, or about $7.85, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Nutter wants the extra tax to help bail out the Philadelphia school system, which is in serious financial peril — and doesn't believe it will hurt businesses.

"I don't know that someone is going to flee to the suburbs to get a pack of cigarettes," he said.

If the cigarette tax became law, Philadelphia would have the largest levy per pack in the country. New York City is now the highest, at $1.50 per pack, followed by Chicago at 68 cents.

The taxes would raise $95 million for schools in 2013-2014 and $135 million in the second year, according to the Inquirer.

The proposal calls for the drink tax to kick off July 1 and the cigarette tax on Jan. 1. But both first need approval by City Council and the passage of enabling legislation in Harrisburg, the newspaper said.

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