South Carolina senators have approved raising the nation's lowest cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack.
By a 32-12 vote, the Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to raising the current tax of 7 cents, which is expected to generate about $130 million for Medicaid programs.
The bill is now bound for a House conference committee and an almost certain veto by Gov. Mark Sanford.
South Carolina's current cigarette tax hasn't increased since 1977, when a pack cost 49 cents.
Senators were scrambling to make it more likely that raising the tax would survive a veto threat and agreed to strip plans to use part of the tax increase to pay for agriculture product marketing and rural projects.