SC House rejects smaller cigarette tax increase

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina House leaders have lost a fight to lower a proposed increase in the state's cigarette tax to 30 cents a pack instead of the 50 cents approved last week by the Senate.

House members rejected the lower tax increase Wednesday with a 62-53 vote after more than two hours of debate. They went on to discuss other changes in the cigarette tax legislation.

South Carolina's cigarette tax is currently 7 cents a pack - the lowest in the nation.

The House leadership's 30-cent plan would have raised $87 million with most of the cash earmarked for a Medicaid trust fund save $5 million for cancer research.

The Senate approved last week a 50 cent increase that generates $130 million for the new Medicaid trust fund.

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