The Montana Senate approved a big increase in state tobacco taxes on Thursday, which supporters said would help fund health-care costs, but sparked emotional reaction from opponents of the measure.  KTVQ.com reports the Senate voted 27-22 in favor SB 354, which increases cigarette taxes by $1.50 a pack, and higher smokeless tobacco taxes.  The bill also would tax e-cigarettes and vaping products, and now goes to the House for consideration.

 

 

The higher taxes would reportedly raise an estimated $70 million a year, with almost half of the funds dedicated to state health-care services – including a raise in pay for caregivers at nursing homes and group homes, veterans’ nursing homes and more.  Ten Republicans joined 17 Senate Democrats in favor of the bill.  Opponents assailed it as unnecessary and unfair to tobacco users, many of whom are poor.