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    Mass. Smoke Tax Jumps

    State House passes bill to raise cigarette tax to $1.76 a pack.

    BOSTON -- The Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a $1 per pack tax hike, The Boston Globe reported.

    The 125 to 29 vote easily surpassed the two-thirds threshold required to ovverride a veto by Acting Gov. Jane Swift, who strongly opposes the measure. The increase would lift the state's tobacco tax to $1.76 a pack, easily surpassing New York's $1.50 tax on a pack of smokes.

    Massachusetts may become the most expensive place in the nation to purchase cigarettes after the House last week overwhelmingly approved a $1 per pack tax increase, the report said.

    The tobacco tax increase passed without debate by a vote of 125 to 29, easily surpassing the two-thirds threshold needed to override a promised veto by Acting Governor Jane Swift. Eight Democrats joined 21 of 22 House Republicans voting in opposition. The measure would place the cigarette tax at $1.76 a pack in Massachusetts -- well above New York's $1.50-a-pack tax, now the country's highest.

    The initiative, which heads to the Senate, is part of a larger $1.06 billion package of tax increases -- the first major tax hike in Massachusetts since 1990. The bill also looks to do away with charitable deductions and scale back the amount of personal income exempt from taxation, The Globe reported. The state faces a $2 billion gap in the upcoming fiscal year beginning July.

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