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    Conn. Considering Cigarette Hike

    Governor proposes Jan. 1 tax increase to help balance budget.

    HARTFORD, Conn. -- State lawmakers have heard several viewpoints on Gov. John Rowland's proposal to once again increase the cigarette tax starting Jan. 1. Rowland has proposed the cigarette tax increase as part of his package of tax increases to address the state budget deficit.

    About 20 percent of the adult population of Connecticut smokes. The tax was last raised by 61 cents per pack in April, according to The Hartford Courant.

    John Singleton, director of public affairs for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. said he hopes the governor and legislature reconsider raising the cigarette tax from $1.11 per pack to $1.51. Connecticut would be tied with Massachusetts for having the highest tax in the nation.

    Singleton said the tax disproportionately hurts low- to middle-income wage earners, will lead to illegal Internet sales and possibly so-called snatch n' grab robberies at convenience stores.

    But groups including the American Lung Association applaud the proposal. They said it would discourage young people from picking up the habit and encourage other smokers to quit.

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