The S.C. Senate today raised the cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack, ended the Palmetto State's status as having the lowest cigarette tax in the nation.
The Senate voted 33-13 to override Gov. Mark Sanford's veto of a measure raising the tax 57 cents a pack effective July 1.
The Senate vote follows Wednesday's overwhelming House vote overriding Sanford, and was met with a round of applause in both the Senate and the State House's packed lobby.
Cigarette tax supporters saw the passage as the end of a more than 10-year journey to raise the levy on cigarettes.
The tax is expected to raise $125 million in new revenue, which is supposed to be dedicated to health care for the poor in South Carolina.
If the importance of the vote were in question, Orangeburg Sen. John Matthews, came into the Senate Chamber for the first time in more than a month, in a wheel chair and on a cane, to cast a vote.
Matthews, the longest serving African American in the Senate, has been out with a back injury.
- Roddie Burris