SC cigarettes to cost 50 cents more per pack

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - Convenience store clerks in South Carolina say many smokers seem to be taking the cigarette tax increase in stride.

Some stores are reporting brisk sales leading up to the 50-cents-per-pack increase that takes effect Thursday. But many store employees say they aren't seeing customers stock up. They say if customers do buy extra, it's generally just an extra pack or two.

The increase is the first cigarette tax hike in South Carolina in 33 years. The current 7 cents-per-pack tax has long been the nation's lowest.

Legislators passed the increase last month over Gov. Mark Sanford's veto. Anti-tobacco advocates have been fighting for an increase for a decade. They say the hike will prevent youth from picking up the deadly habit and eventually bring down health care costs.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.