Smokers react to tobacco tax hike

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | e-mail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Smokers will soon have to cough up a little more money to get their nicotine fix. The federal tobacco tax goes into affect Wednesday, raising the previous tax from 39 cents to $1.01 and News Leader Nine has reaction from smokers.

Fifty year smoker, Jack Daniels thinks the tax hike is uncalled for, "I think it's putting money in the president's pocket and the other people in the government, it's money in their pocket."

Ana Vargas has smoked for more than 20 years and is equally upset, "I don't think it's right. They don't mention anything about alcohol. They just raised the price on cigarettes so that means I'll have to slow down."

With the news of a tobacco tax hike, many smokers are considering changing their habits in order to save money.

"I've tried to quit and I draw my Social Security and it's hard for me to afford high cigarettes as it is. I get the cheapest I can," Daniels told News Leader Nine.

Employees at the Tobacco Shop in Columbus say customers are scrambling to get cigarettes, "The shelves are empty because people are buying whatever they can get their hands on." But owner Velma Hartley said their prices changed weeks ago, "Our cigarettes are already up. That's because manufacturers -- Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Common Wealth, etc. -- all went up three weeks ago to cover the floor tax."

Even though customers, like Jack Daniels, are aware of the price hike, "When I first started smoking I was paying 15 cents a pack and now it's over $3 a pack." Most say people won't change their bad habits.

"Generally it seems that taxes don't affect people that much because they're going to smoke," added once a month cigar smoker, Wes Stinson.

A lot of people are really upset about this but we've found that the way people adapt is different. Some are quitting, some are cutting back and some are just going to tough it out and spend the money.