www.WDIO.com

Tobacco Tax Hike Starts Monday; People Share Mixed Opinions

Posted at: 06/30/2013 5:51 PM
Updated at: 06/30/2013 10:43 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

Cigarettes will be much more costly in Minnesota after Sunday. New tobacco taxes kick in Monday.

That includes a $1.60 increase in the per-pack tax on cigarettes. The extra charge brings the total tax to $2.83 per pack.

It's part of a state budget fix, but has also hailed by public health experts as a way to discourage smoking.

"Hopefully everyone will quit smoking," non-smoker Holly Engstrom said. "I'm so happy I'm not smoking. We just couldn't do it anymore."

Engstrom stopped smoking a couple months ago, and she hopes the new tax hike will help her husband quit.

"I'm due to quit pretty soon, but it's kind of hard," smoker Daniel Engstrom said. "I can't afford a five dollar pack let alone now seven or eight dollars."

While the new tax hike may keep some people from lighting up, not every smoker thinks the change will help.

"Addicts are addicts, they'll find a way," smoker Albert Ross said. "I'm going to smoke just as much. It's just going to cause problems in my life."

A cashier working at the BP on Central Entrance in Duluth said he's seen some people stocking up before the tax hike.

"I've sold a couple cartons, but nothing crazy," Charles Davis said.

"I got enough to last me three or four weeks," Daniel Engstrom said. "I planned ahead."

Minnesota will have the nation's 6th highest tax on cigarettes. New York is tops at $4.35.

As part of the tax conversion, retailers must take inventory on packs already in stores. By mid-July they must report their counts to the state and pay a one-time floor stock tax by early September. Floor tax proceeds have been earmarked to pay debt on the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

(Copyright 2012 WDIO-TV, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)