Impact of cigarette tax tripling uncertain

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee officials say 10 months is not enough time to measure the health impact of tripling the cigarette tax but it has some smokers buying in other states.

Angela Haygood lives and works in Chattanooga, but since Tennessee raised its tax on a pack of cigarettes from 20 cents to 62 cents, she regularly goes to Georgia to buy them.

Tennessee's cigarette tax increased July 1, 2007, making it higher than its eight neighboring states.

Three months later, the state also started a ban on smoking in offices, restaurants and other public places and limited smoking to adult-only businesses such as bars or smoking lounges.

While the higher tobacco tax has more than doubled revenues from smokers, the extra levy generated $62.3 million less in its first 10 months than predicted.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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