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6:20am — No Butts About It …

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s going to cost you a lot more to smoke, as 61-cents-a-pack federal tax kicks in on April 1.

New Mexico smokers got a bit of a reprieve when a legislative proposal to further increase the state tax on smokers from its current 91 cents a pack died in the House Taxation and Revenue Committee, but the price-per-pack is going up anyway on April 1, when a 61-cents-a-pack federal tax increase will go into effect, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

Tobacco users are footing the nearly $33 billion bill for the recent expansion of a federal children’s health program (known as S-CHIP) that could insure as many as 11 million children, the Sun-News said.

The 61-cent tax increase will be added to the current 39-cent federal tax on cigarettes, bringing the total federal tax to a buck a pack, the paper reported.

Other tobacco products will also see tax increases, including a jump of more than 30 percent for large cigars (take that, Rush Limbaugh!), an increase of about 7 cents for moist snuff and a jump of nearly $1.50 for roll-your-own tobacco, according to the Sun-News.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, raising cigarette taxes is one of the most effective tobacco-prevention strategies, with increases leading to “substantial long-run improvements in health” and a decrease in youth cigarette demand by up to 15 percent, the paper reported.

“Price definitely has a huge effect on people’s decision to quite smoking,” David Tompkins, spokesman for the state Department of Health’s Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program, told the Sun-News, adding, however, “If people quit, some agencies funded with that tax money would be harmed.”

But some retailers didn’t think the increased tax would affect consumers too much, the paper reported.

“There will probably be a decline (in sales), but not as much as people think,” Onola Corradini, a clerk at Bradley Petroleum on El Paseo Road and a smoker herself, told the Sun-News. “Smokers are smokers, and while they might cut back by a pack or so a week, they’ll stay with it.”