Smokers Not Happy About Tax Increase

GULFPORT MS. (WLOX) - If you are a smoker, here is some news you don't want to hear. A law signed by Governor Barbour, increases taxes on "off-brand" cigarettes by 25 cents.

These are the cigarettes manufactured by companies that did not participate in the state's 1997 tobacco settlement.

This increase comes on top of the 50 cent a pack increase imposed on all cigarettes on May 15th of this year.

Rheiner Helbrecht buys his cigarettes at a discount tobacco shop in Gulfport. "it is a vice tax, as simple as that," Helbrecht told us.

Others at the same store, wanted to know why the states doesn't also increase taxes on alcohol.

Felicia Williams is at employee at the store. She thinks lawmakers made a mistake that will have a negative impact on Mississippi's bottom line.

"People are going to leave the state," an obviously frustrated Williams said.

'"They will go to Louisianna and Alabama instead of buying their cigarettes here."

Toni Hutcherson buys her cigarettes in Mississippi and has been doing that since she was a young girl. Toni is 51 now, but started smoking when she was 12.

"Back then, I paid 47 cents for a pack of cigarettes," she said. "Now, she added, I pay $3.20 for a pack."

Actually, Toni was wrong about that number. As of Tuesday, that same pack went up by 25 cents.

As she began to leave, she jokingly told us, she will have to make this pack last.

As she walked out the door, with a gin on her face, she told us, maybe it's time to stop smoking, and wished us a good day.

By Jeff Lawson

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