The Utah House of Representatives has voted 39-35 in favor of a measure that would raise the state tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack, from the current 69.5 cents to about $1.70.
The Associated Press reported March 3 that Rep. Paul Ray, the bill sponsor, said the measure would raise revenues for the state, provide an incentive for smokers to quit, help offset Medicaid costs for treating tobacco-related illnesses, and discourage kids from smoking.
The measure faced strong opposition, and observers said it may have passed largely because the state needs the money.
The bill now heads to the Senate; Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is on record opposing any tax increases.