Cook County cigarette taxes up $1; fake cigarettes likely to increase

March 1, 2013 4:52:55 AM PST
The Cook County tax on cigarettes goes up by $1 Friday, and that means, depending on where you buy your cigarettes, you could pay anywhere from $12-13 a pack.

It also means there will be more counterfeit cigarettes, says Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. A truckload was found at a convenience store hidden behind a fake wall. The counterfeits look similar to real ones, including a tax stamp. No taxes are collected on them.

"The big losers are the people in the county because this is money that is in the budget set aside for -- not being collected," Dart said.

Sheriff Dart says many of the counterfeits are coming from China. His deputies followed one shipment that arrived at O'Hare International Airport sent to a random address on the West Side. The people there said they didn't know anything about them.

"We set out with the postal service and ourselves for a day to see someone pick it up and they were either on to us or had a bigger shipment going somewhere else," Dart said.

The county expects to raise about $25 million from the tax hike.

"This is a proven public policy tool that will bring in needed revenue to our public health system while lowering smoking rates and preventing people from picking up the deadly habit," said Cook Co. President Toni Preckwinkle.


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