Gov. Pat Quinn is thanking lawmakers who voted to approve a $1 increase in cigarette taxes. It's the final piece of his plan to ease crushing financial burdens on the Medicaid system. Quinn says the General Assembly ``rose to the occasion to save our Medicaid system from the brink of collapse.'' The measure now goes to Quinn for his signature. The governor and other Democrats argue the increase will help close a $2.7 billion hole in the state Medicaid budget and also help prevent smoking. Republicans object to any tax increase. Quinn says smoking-related illnesses cost Medicaid $1.5 billion last year. He also says the legislation will help 60,000 people quit smoking, prevent 60,000 deaths from smoking-related conditions and keep 80,000 young people from starting to smoke.
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