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Cigarette tax hike passes first committee

SANTA FE — A proposal to raise taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products passed its first committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 25, sponsored Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, still must get through two more committees before reaching the Senate floor.

It would raise taxes by $1.50 a pack, and impose an equivalent amount on electronic cigarettes, with the extra revenue — perhaps $80 million a year — dedicated to public schools.

Morales said the bill would discourage young people from starting to smoke, provide an incentive for adults to quit and raise money for schools that need it.

A similar proposal failed in the House last year, and Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has repeatedly vowed to reject tax increases.

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