For smokers fuming over the high price of cigarettes, buying a pack in Cook County will get even more expensive beginning Friday.
According to a December report by the Sun-Times, March's tax hike jacks Chicago cigarette fees to among the highest in the nation, just behind New York City at $6.86.
Suburban smokers will be spared — but just slightly: Taxes will be $5.99 a pack outside the city.
The projected $25 million in new annual revenue from the tax hike will go to area hospitals treating lung cancer patients, reports CBS. Scofflaws looking to dodge the new fees by picking up smokes sans tax stamp or buying loose cigarettes be warned: Penalties per violation are as high as $4,000.
As part of a PR blitz to capitalize on the new tax woe, Nicorette is planting a 20-foot tall cigarette butt in Pioneer Court Plaza for parts of Friday and Saturday; there, smokers can exchange their cigarettes for free smoking cessation resources (including Nicorette).
The taxes were approved last year as part of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's 2013 budget, which also included new fees on guns and gambling that go into effect in April, the Tribune reports.