Cigarette tax, prices to increase on April 1
Starting April 1, the price of cigarettes will increase throughout the United States as a result of the 61-cent tax increase on the product. This increase will bring the total federal tax on cigarettes to $1 and is likely to raise the overall price of cigarettes considerably.
The new tax comes as part of a healthcare bill that will expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to cover 3.5 million uninsured children at the cost of $32.8 billion, according to Reuters.
In the past, similar bills have been vetoed by the Bush administration because of the tax increases. However, the current bill passed in both the Senate and House of Representatives and was signed into law by President Obama in February.
The 61-cent increase in the federal cigarette tax will be used to fund the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Moreover, there will be a similar tax increase on related tobacco products like cigars and chewing tobacco.
In a statement issued last month, Charles D. Conner, American Lung Association President and CEO, called the increased cigarette tax a "long fought public health victory…that will improve health, increase children’s healthcare coverage, and reduce smoking.”
"Considering [that] half of all smokers will die prematurely from their addiction, increasing the federal cigarette tax will go a long [way] to save young lives and is also good for our economy,” wrote Conner. "Preventing lung disease through access to quality healthcare while also preventing kids from starting to smoke will save our nation billions in the years to come.”
"Importantly, this substantial increase in the federal cigarette tax will help curb youth smoking rates,” he added. "Each 10 percent increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by about seven percent.”
However, the tax increase is not without its drawbacks.
Recently, national reports indicated that several leading cigarette manufacturers will increase the price of cigarettes to compensate for the loss of profits due to the raised federal tax on cigarettes. Camel, Kool, Winston, Salem, Pall Mall, Doral, Marlboro and Newport cigarettes are among the brands to see a price increase ranging from 41 cents to 71 cents. Some of these price increases will go into effect as early as March 16.
Baton Rouge has already had a small taste of the price increase, as several local convenience stores prematurely raised cigarette prices at the end of last month. According to KSLA News in Shreveport, one Circle K store in Baton Rouge mistakenly set the price of a pack to $8.18 in anticipation of the tax increase in April. Once the error was discovered, prices were returned to normal.
Although many smokers are outraged at the price hike, most agree that the tax increase will cause many to either quit or cut back on their smoking habit.
Brody Wilson, LSU geography senior, smokes frequently but thinks that the impending higher prices of cigarettes will help him reduce his habit. However, he does not think that he will stop smoking completely.
"I don’t like [the tax increase], but who likes taxes anyway,” said Wilson. "I think it is going toward a good thing. It’s probably going to get a lot of people to quit [smoking].”
"It’s an easy target. No one likes smokers,” added Wilson. "It sucks, but you don’t need cigarettes to live. I guess I much rather have a tax on cigarettes than an extra sales tax on other things like beer.”
Jared Martin, a graphic design junior, is firmly against smoking but thinks that the new tax increase on cigarettes seems a little unfair.
"I think the government taxes cigarettes because they know people won’t stop buying them because they are addictive,” said Martin. "I think that they know they can come up with the most money by doing that and that’s why they tax it.”
"People have the right to smoke if they want to, but it is harming other people too because second-hand smoke is just as bad,” he added. “[Still], the government should not try to tell people what to do by over-taxing.”
Altogether, smokers will be faced with a choice coming this April, as cigarettes will become harder to afford in an already tight economy