The largest-ever federal cigarette tax increase, which adds 61.6 cents to the price of a pack this week, has left smokers feeling “picked on” by the federal government, CNN reported April 1.
President Barack Obama approved the tax increase in February, and the new levy will go into effect Wednesday, increasing the cigarette tax to roughly $10.10 per carton ($1.01 per pack). The excise tax will be used to fund an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
Some major tobacco companies began incorporating the increase in tax into their prices to wholesalers in March, leading retailers to increase consumer prices in anticipation of a sales drop after the federal increase.
Federal tax on other tobacco products like cigars, which are taxed based on weight and price, are also slated to increase.
Some long-time smokers feel the new cigarette tax targets them. “They’re picking on smokers,” said 83-year-old Gloria Egger. “As old as I am, I’m not going to quit smoking, regardless of what they do.”
Larry Jukes of Denver, Colo., agreed that the tax targeted “us poor people, the ones that smoke,” and said that he has been smoking for 50 years and that the price increase won’t make him quit, either.
However, cigar smoker Dave Bowersox of Denver said that raising taxes on tobacco made sense. “I think tobacco, alcohol, that kind of stuff should be taxed instead of gasoline and food — things that are necessary for people to survive,” he said.