Paying for Joe Camel's Funeral

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NEW YORK: Did you really think tobacco companies were going to foot the bill for that $206 billion payout to the states? Kings-of-smokes Philip Morris and RJR announced Monday that they would be raising cigarette prices by 45 cents a pack. The rest of the Big Five are expected to follow suit -- this despite analysts' calculations that the 25-year settlement could be paid for with increases of only 35 to 40 cents.

Smokers familiar with their pushers' legendary financial acumen shouldn't be too surprised to get stuck with the tab. But if they cheered at all when Sen. John McCain's $516 billion settlement bill died this year -- largely because of a virulent industry ad campaign that attacked the "tax-and-spend" $1.10 increase -- they ought to be a little peeved that this time the taxes are coming from their own side. Of course that hasn't stopped Philip Morris stock from its steady runup -- in a smoker's blood, nicotine generally wins out over outrage.