Smokers & non-smokers react to federal cigarette tax hike

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - If you are a smoker, be prepared to spend more to support your habit. Next month the federal tax on cigarettes will jump from 39 cents to $1 a pack.

The federal government says the money from cigarette tax hike will be used to expand a children's health insurance program, but that didn't seem to make a difference to smokers who say they're not happy about having to pay between $7 and $8 more per carton.

There was a frenzy on Wednesday to get the Waveland Tobacco Shack ready to open before week's end.

"Stocking, pricing, trying to get inventory in and getting ready," said owner Julie Allison.

Cigarette smokers not ready for the 61 cent federal tax hike are out of luck.  Allison said prices shot up ahead of the April 1st start date.

"The wholesalers did go up. They went up last week."

Allison said she is having to charge more.

"Hopefully this will be the final price increase. We won't have to go up no more."

Over at the Tobacco Shack in Bay St. Louis, Jesse Fineran was among the customers fuming about the cost of a carton of cigarettes. He's a non-smoker who was buying for a friend.

"I think it's another overkill where they're going to basically abuse addicts," said Fineran. "Because anybody that smokes has got to be a addict. It just seems like a bad way to get revenue."

The question now is will higher tobacco prices force people to kick the habit?

Gerald Edwards said he's soon to be done with cigarettes.

"I'm going to quit because I can't afford cigarettes, which they want me to do, but it's not fair," Edwards said.

"I'm trying to cut back because $4.06 a pack ain't cutting it," said John Chagnard, Jr. "So I'm going to try to cut back instead of quitting because I know I can't quit. I'm addicted. "

The government is raising the federal tax on smokeless tobacco to $1.51 per pound and large cigars are going up from four cents each to 40 cents each.

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