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Latest budget extenders raises the tax on cigarettes

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By WBFO News

Albany, NY – The State Legislature approved the latest emergency spending bill Monday evening that will raise taxes on cigarettes. The new rates, which take effect July 1st, increase the state excise tax on cigarettes from $2.75 per pack to $4.35. Taxes on cigars, pipe tobacco and other tobacco products will also rise sharply.

"It's a punitive and regressive tax on those with addiction," argued Democratic Assemblyman William Parment of Jamestown. He said people in his district will now make even more "cigarette runs" for their friends, relatives and co-workers across the state line to Pennsylvania and to two nearby Indian reservations.

"It is an abuse of our taxing power."

The bill also calls for the collection of taxes on cigarettes sold by Indian retailers to non-Native Americans beginning September 1.

State Senator George Maziarz, a Niagara County Republican, predicted a "clash of cultures," and worries about violence when the state tries to collect cigarette taxes from Indian smoke shops.

Also Monday, the State Senate approved budget bills passed by the Assembly last Friday. One consolidates several public safety agencies into a single division while another reduces spending on economic development programs.

The Legislature has now passed 12 weekly emergency bills since the start of the fiscal year on April 1, and in effect have enacted about 70 percent of the total budget.

Several legislators say they expect a final budget by the end of the week.