Health groups back higher Ala. cigarette tax

Legislation to raise Alabama's cigarette tax by $1 per pack is drawing support from state Health Officer Don Williamson, Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and several health organizations.

The legislation sponsored by Democratic Rep. Patricia Todd of Birmingham picked up the support at a news conference Tuesday in Montgomery. Todd's bill would raise the total tax to $1.42 per pack, which would be more than any of Alabama's neighboring states. Todd and other supporters say the bill would generate revenue for the state during tough economic times and discourage people from smoking.

Williamson said about 20 percent of Alabama adults smoke, and studies have shown that consumption goes down when the price goes up.

Supporters estimate the tax proposal could generate $205 million annually even with reduced consumption.

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