Cigarette tax could benefit SC teachers' salaries

The price of smoking is going up, and that extra money you pay for a pack of cigarettes could be going to South Carolina teachers.

The state representative who filed the bill-- a former smoker of 20 years-- is suggesting to tax $1 more per pack of cigarettes in order to pay teachers more.

FOX 46 spoke with several neighbors in Fort Mill what they thought of the proposal. There was both support and opposition, but many said they simply didn’t think the two should be connected. 

"I think it's a good idea. Give them a raise they deserve it,” Michael Young told FOX 46.

The bill would add a five cent tax per cigarette to increase teacher salaries across the state. 

"Cigarettes are pretty overpriced as it is. I really don't think a dollar would have a substantial impact on sales,” said Alex Aparico. 

Smokers are split in their support 

"I’m a smoker and I’ve got to quit, but there has got to be another way around this,” Martin said. 

"It would probably help me stop smoking, but yeah I would go for that,” said Young. 

Others believe it sends the wrong message 
“I don't think they should benefit from things that cause cancer to pay teachers. There are other ways around it,” John Thurston said. "I don't think that should be where it come from." 

State leaders say they can't ignore the teacher shortage, and increasing salaries could be one way to fix the growing problem. 

Last week hundreds of South Carolina educators walked out of the classroom, protesting and pushing for better pay

“My wife is a teacher she is retiring next year. There’s a great discrepancy between the people that teach up north and down here,” Thurston said. 

The bill, HB 3665, is in the early stages, but in the future smokers could end up with that extra charge.

“People are still going to buy cigarettes. Cigarettes are cigarettes,” Aparico said. 

The American Cancer Society met with lawmakers asking to increase the tax to $1.50 more per pack. If it passes, the bill could generate $150 million dollars for teacher salaries.