Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland has found a way to silence the loudest critic of his new cigarette tax: He pays for her smokes.

The governor's mother, Cerie Rowland, told the Associated Press last month she was mobilizing her bridge club to oppose the 61-cent increase her son had proposed to help close the state's budget gap.

According to the Record-Journal of Meriden, Rowland good-humoredly told state agencies at a luncheon on Friday that the secret to keeping his 70-year-old mother quiet is as simple as paying her off with cigarettes.

"I have bought her silence. It cost me $60 a month more. I buy all her cigarettes." Rowland said.