A federal tax on cigarettes will be imposed in April, raising them 61 cents a pack. However, local convenience stores have already taken a hit. The warnings were posted at the gas pumps telling smokers to buy before the price of cigarettes go up. But now, the high cost of smokes is a dose of reality for smokers in the area.
David George, a smoker whose wife is encouraging him to quit said, "It does have a lot to do with me quitting because it's ridiculous taxing cigarettes that high. I mean, who can afford that?"
Although the federal tax does not go into effect until April, prices of cigarette brands such as Marlboro are already on the rise to cover the cost of the tax. Some smokers and their families have had enough of the prices and the bad habit--and they say this could be a blessing after all.
While getting gas, Sharonda Ivey saw the signs warning of the tax increase. "That's going to stop a lot of people from smoking. It's going to stop me, if anything, I'm not going to smoke." said Ivey.
Bill Spencer says his son-in-law smokes and he hopes this is a motivator for him to quit as well. "Some people need that extra push to help kick the habit and when it starts hurting in the pocket, maybe that's what it will take, hopefully." said Spencer.
Altria, the company that owns Marlboro and other cigarette brands, showed a five percent increase in its shares last week since announcing the price increase. While cigarette prices go up, Altria says it is reducing the prices of its smokeless brands such as Copenhagen and Skoal. However, it says cigarettes make up for about 80 percent of its profits.
Around the country, cigarette prices vary from store to store, but you can expect to pay in the area of five dollars per pack, which is an increase of between 70-80 cents per pack. And if you want to buy a carton of cigarettes, they have been spotted at around 30 dollars a carton.