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Court upholds cigarette fee

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled the state's new cigarette fee is constitutional.

In a Tuesday afternoon ruling, the court said the 75-cent-a-pack fee does not violate a 1998 settlement reached with big tobacco companies. The tobacco makers and sellers said the 1998 deal forbid the state from implementing such a fee. The court disagreed.

Tuesday's ruling overturns a Ramsey County District Court decision that found the fee unconstitutional.

The ruling apparently means the state will be able to collect more than $370 million a year from the fee, enacted by last year's Legislature. There remained questions about whether the state would get the money right away or whether it would have to wait until any further legal appeals are exhausted.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.