By Jason Bramwell
A seventy-five-cent increase in Chicago's cigarette tax that is being proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel will likely be included in the city's 2014 budget, which will be presented to the Chicago City Council October 23.
Emanuel hopes an increase in the cigarette tax will take a small chunk out of the city's estimated $339 million budget deficit next year as well as provide more free vision care to students in Chicago public schools, according to a Chicago Tribunearticle October 20.
The increase would give Chicago the highest total cigarette tax in the nation. If aldermen approve Emanuel's proposal, it will come on top of $1 cigarette tax increases by the state and Cook County that went into effect during the last sixteen months.
The proposal would increase the combined state and local cigarette tax rate in Chicago from $6.67 per pack to $7.42 per pack, putting it ahead of New York City, which currently has the highest per-pack tax in the United States at $6.86.
The mayor's office expects to collect an additional $10 million from the cigarette tax hike, with $8 million going toward the budget shortfall and $2 million to expand a program that provides free eye exams and glasses to students who fail vision screenings.