Japan - Hike in tobacco tax eyed in '10
USA - Tobacco industry remains strong despite tax hikes and bad economy
West Virginia - Newspaper trying to justify higher cigarette taxes
South Carolina - SC has lowest taxes in country, but for how long?
On the right side of a the page are two links to Electronic Cigarettes, which can be smoked for less money. Electronic cigarettes are a safe and handy alternative to the rising tax prices.
"On Thursday, however, the Centers reported that after 15 years of dropping, the national rate of smoking had gone up slightly to just under 21 percent."
"European Union states agreed to raise the excise tax on cigarettes by nearly 30% to try to reduce smoking and improve public health"
America going the way of the EU? They want to turn America into a European-style state, which means very high taxes. We'll see what happens in the 2010 and 2012 elections.
More info here
Salt Lake City legislature wants to increase cigarette taxes to $2
New York state government wants to tax Indian cigarettes, Indians trying to defend their rights to sell tax-free cigarettes
The average price for a pack of Marlboro Reds is $5.75. The average price in urban areas is much higher, but taking into account all the states in America and all the areas, it's still under the $6 mark.
The average price of other cigarette brands like Camel or Newport are usually similar to Marlboro.
They want to charge ridiculous prices for tobacco to pay for health care and some new scholarships (and here).
In Chicago, rising cigarette taxes have had the opposite effect, bringing tax revenues down instead of up.
Many smokers in Wisconsin are heading to the Illinois border to buy their smokes, for much less price.
How far will they go? We'll have to wait for 2010, by then, some of the tobacco tax hikes may get taken down. Until then it'll be a rough road.
Alternatives to Cigarette Smoking
Electronic Cigarettes are a newly invented way of smoking. It's usually a battery powered device that looks like a cigarette that you inhale from. You inhale nicotine in a vapor, sometimes with smoke or not, depending on the brand.
Rolling/Making Your Own Cigarettes
Probably the most commonly used cigarette alternative. Buying tobacco and rolling it into rolling papers. Almost all smoke-shops will sell tobacco in pouches, which come with rolling papers, but you can also buy more. Smoking this way will cost about 1/3 of what you spend on cigarettes.
Not only do smoke shops sell tobacco in bags, but many regular places like gas station sell them as well. The taste and feel of smoking cigarettes you rolled yourself is different from premium brand cigarettes, it is certainly an acquired taste. You can order tobacco
There are also very nice brands of quality tobacco that you can buy.
Of course, you could always just quit! Quitting smoking can be pretty hard. Nicotine is a very addictive substance. You can either go cold turkey, which means quitting outright with no assistance. Or you could use a number of programs that help you quit.
Consciously try to smoke less cigarettes per day. Try buying a cigarette case that holds half as many cigarettes as you usually smoke per day, and only smoke the cigarettes in the case.
Slowing lowering the amount of cigarettes is a better option than cutting them in half quickly. Smoke 1 less cigarette a day every week until you get to the amount you'd like to be smoking.
30% - $5.50 - 6.50
24% - $4.50 - 5.50
13% - $7.50 - 8.50
11% - $6.50 - 7.50
A large majority of smokers in America are paying over $5.00 per pack of cigarettes as of early October, 2009.
Illinois: Some unfazed by higher cigarette taxes, others try to quit
In response to cigarette prices going up, some are using different tobacco products or using new smoking methods.
New Jersey: Four men arrested, $280K seized in northern N.J. illegal cigarette sales probe
Buying them cheaper in other states, and selling them illegally in states with higher cigarette taxes.
Seattle: 7 charged in Seattle contraband cigarette case
Another similar case.
New York: 21 arrested in untaxed cigarette sting
Cigarette smugglers pulling in 800k a week.
One result of higher cigarette prices is the rise of smugglers, expect to see more of this in the future.
USA - Budget Negotiators In Accord To Raise Cigarette Tax To $3 A Pack
- Smokers beware.
Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and top Democrats still sharply disagree on many budget issues, but they have reached an accord on the cigarette tax: It needs to go up $1 a pack.
Ireland - WHO urges €2 increase in cigarette prices
- IRELAND SHOULD continue to increase the price of cigarettes to put them out of reach of young people, according to a senior policy adviser to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
US Military - Smoking in the military: An old habit dies hard
- FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq — Gen. Douglas MacArthur had his signature corncob pipe. Soldiers got cigarettes in their C-rations during World War II. Even today, America's war on tobacco seems to have largely bypassed the military.
Australia - Alcohol, cigarette prices may rise
- The price of alcohol favoured by teens and problem drinkers could rise, due to a new tax proposed to improve Australians' health.
Wisconsin: State cigarette tax will jump 75 cents in 10 days
Mississippi: Cig taxes: Impact was as advertised
Alternatives to cigarettes: Electronic Cigarettes
As the first link shows, some people have decided to grow their own tobacco. From what I can gather it is legal to grow your own tobacco as long as you don't sell it and only grow it for your own use. It also seems like a lot of trouble to grow tobacco though, much more than growing other plants.
Cigarettes costing over $6 for premium brands in most of Western Washington.
Going up steadily around the rest of the country.
The Obama administration is pushing health care reform. The big question is: what effect will that have on smokers? It all depends on what ends up happening. They will surely try to up the cigarette taxes to make smokers quit, as well as to increase their taxes considering the economy.
People will continue looking for alternatives to high cigarette prices, like buying from Indian reservations or smuggling, as a few of those news articles noted. Cigarette prices in big cities like NYC, LA, and some parts of New Jersey are at or over $10.00. It's a situation that can't hold out for long.
Cigarette prices by state
These are prices for premium brands from our sources:
Dallas, TX: upwards of $5.50
Bronx, NY: $7.45-$9.00, depending on location
Seattle, WA: $5.50-$6.00
We don't see any relief for cigarette smokers any time soon. The Obama administration appears to be attacking cigarette companies with new regulations which will lead to increased prices. Expect cigarette prices to maintain or increase for the rest of 2009.
Info here and here.
What the bill will do:
- Bigger warning labels on packs of cigarettes. 50% or more of the package will be a warning label
- Tobacco sponsorships of entertainment or sports will be banned. Also banned are giveaways of non-tobacco products with tobacco purchases.
- Cigarette vending machines will only be available in places made exclusively for adults, as well as point-of-sale advertising.
- Apparently cigarettes flavored with sweeteners and "mild" tastes won't be available in stores. I'm not sure what they mean here, banning all cigarettes from stores with flavors?
"Smokers, particularly the younger crowd, will find they can no longer buy cigarettes sweetened by candy flavors or any herb or spices such as strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon or vanilla. Cigarettes advertised as "light" or "mild," giving the impression that they aren't as harmful to health, will no longer be found on store shelves."
This report appears to back it up and says:
"No more "light" cigarettes or candy-flavored smokes. Bigger, scarier warning labels. Fewer ads featuring sexy young smokers."
Well, I don't like the sound of this bill at all. They need to stay out of our business.
In other news, Obama is having trouble staying smoke-free.
Pakistan: FBR to determine minimum price for tobacco tax
New Hampshire: Another cigarette tax hike will hurt small businesses, families
Taiwan: New cigarette prices leave consumers confused
New York: Cigarette Tax Increase Lowered NY Smoking Rates
Jakarta, Indonesia: Govt may raise cigarette excise by 10%
Australia: AMA backs cigarette tax hike
Cigarette Prices by Location:
Chicago - $9.25 for Camel Lights
Upstate South Carolina - $3.75 for Dorals
Tacoma, Washington - $5.60+ for Marlboro
Fresno, California - $5.00 - $6.15 for premium brands
Maine - $5.15 for Pall Mall and $5.45+ for other premium brands
Tampa, Florida - $5.45 for Newport
More Cigarette Price Notes
We're most likely going to see a Cigarette price increase in 2009, but it may come next year. Most forecasters see cigarette prices going up at some time in the future but the exact time is unknown. Cigarette prices in the USA are in a turbulent period due to the economy, while it's a bit more stabilized around the world.
A group representing owners of convenience stores says a new poll has found that higher taxes on cigarettes are playing a role in store closures.
The group says contraband cigarettes cost about $2, whereas legal cigarettes cost around $8 or $9....
Thailand: Poll: Cigarette Smokers too weak to quit
Most Thai smokers would like to quit smoking but they have not been very successful, according to a survey by the Suan Dusit Poll.
On the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day on Sunday, the survey was conducted between Thursday and Sunday, involving 1,092 respondents, both smokers, second-hand smokers and non-smokers, in Bangkok and nearby provinces.
On the respondents’ views on cigarette smokers, 41.06 per cent said smokers can smoke without causing troubles to others. 30.72 per cent were worried about the health of smokers. 28.22 per cent believed smokers had the right to smoke....
Australia: Tobacco tax will widen wealth gap
A proposal to increase taxes on cigarettes would direct the money of some of the worst off in our society to some of the most affluent, writes Jennifer Doggett.....
Some recent cigarette price reports
Cigarette Prices in:
Western New York: $4.75-$5.75
Des Moines, Iowa: $5.15
Boise, Idaho: $5.25+
Baltimore, Maryland: $5.50-$6.00
These are prices for a pack of premium cigarettes like Camel, Marlboro, Newport, Doral etc.
Florida cigarette price news: The smoking gun: The facts behind the cigarette tax hike
Older story from March: Single Largest Cigarette Tax Hike Goes Into Effect Wednesday
From San Francisco: Newsom's Proposed Cigarette Tax a Pain in the Butt for Smokers
I got a call from a friend who had been visiting Arkansas and Georgia over the last week. He's visiting family there and is an avid smoker of Doral and Basic, prefers Menthols and 100s. Always looking out for prices, so he gave me the rundown of the price of cigarettes in that area, mostly in the rural parts of those states. Camel, Newports and Virginia Slims were selling for the most, for some reason.
Anyway, what's important is that he'd been out at a bar with his cousin and met a salesperson from Marlboro and discussed cigarettes and cigarette taxes with him. The guy said that they're not too sure where the price of cigarettes are going or how much a pack of cigarettes will cost next week or next year because of the current government and the recession. My friend didn't tell me much else, aside from thinking it was strange that the Marlboro guy didn't even smoke Marlboros and instead smoked Winston lights.
My friend got some Marlboro cigarette coupons from the guy though, which is pretty nice.
CigarettesPedia is a site I came across the other day. It's a very cool website about the history of cigarettes and has a huge list of historical and current cigarette boxes, with pictures for a lot of them. You can edit it like Wikipedia and add your own information about cigarette boxes, cartons or any sort of information if it's relevant to the page.
I knew there were a lot different types of cigs out there, but not as many as they've got there. They must have tens of thousands of different cigarette boxes on display. From all around the world too. It's interesting to see the ones from all of these smaller countries, as well as the older cigarette designs.
Most of the cigarette prices that we post on Cigarette Price Watch are for premium cigarette brands like Marlboro, Camel, Winston or Parliament. Most gas stations or supermarkets sell only premium brands. There are tons of other brands out there, some of them dirt cheap.
Where I live, in the northwest we have Indian reservations that sell cigarettes of all sorts. Before some of the recent cigarette tax and price hikes, you could get some cheaper brands like Carnival and Smokin' Joes for $15 per carton. That's very cheap since Marlboros have always gone for at least $4.75 per pack up here.
You need to remember that when browsing the cigarette price list, they're for premium cigarette brands. A lot of smokers don't know that there's all sorts of cheaper cigarette brands out there, but they're rarely sold at gas station or supermarkets. You can order those cheap cigarettes online from distributors, or at smoke shops, but they usually charge a lot more than they're worth.
The variety of cigarette brands differs around the United States. Most cigarettes are produced in southern states, primarily the south-east. South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, around there. In those states you can get more variety than somewhere like the northwest, where it's mostly premium cigarettes unless you go to a smoke shop or indian reservation.
The prices of cigarettes are also much cheaper in that region. Not too long ago you could get premium brands for 15 bucks a carton in gas stations in South Carolina. People are always asking how much a pack of cigarette costs in different areas, but don't realize how much the price of cigarettes or the price of a carton of cigarettes differs around the nation.
Cigarette prices in western Washington seem to have gone up in recent days. One contact of ours reports paying $6.50 at a Fred Meyer in Seattle, along with another telling us of paying a little over $6.00 for a pack of cigarettes at a gas station.
Cigarette Prices By State
Note: These are the only states that we've got information for. These are rough estimates since it varies a bit within the state.
Connecticut: $5.50- $6.50
Georgia: $4.25 - $5.50
Idaho: $5.00 - $5.75
Illinois: $4.25 - $6.75
Indiana - $4.25 - $5.50
Louisiana: $4.50 - $5.75
Michigan: $4.50 - $6.00
New Jersey: $5.00 - $7.50 in some places
New York: $4.75 - $10.00+
Nevada: $4.75 - $6.00
North Carolina: $4.00 - $5.00
Ohio: $4.50 - $6.50
Oklahoma: $4.50 - $5.50
Oregon: $4.75 - $6.25
Pennsylvania: $5.00 - $6.25
Tennessee: $5.00 - $5.75
Texas: $3.75 - $7.00
Virginia: $4.45 - $5.50
Washington: $4.75 - $6.00
Wyoming: $4.00 - $5.15
The prices of cigarettes have gradually gone up over the last few years and Cigarette Price Watch is here to watch and report on cigarette price rises. The new government is surely going to increase cigarette taxes and this is your first stop to find out what's going on.
The rise of cigarette prices in 2009 is something to keep your eye on, else you'll be caught with buying cigarettes at a vastly increased cost. Not only do we keep track of cigarette prices in the United States, but we are also beginning to keep track of cigarette prices in Europe and cigarette prices in the rest of the world.
OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. - Many smokers might be thinking twice before they light up in Mississippi. Legislators approved a new cigarette tax increase that takes effect Friday and local tobacco stores are scrambling to get ready.
Geralyn Miller said, "I came in here with $100 to buy three cartons of cigarettes, and that's not washing anymore."
Smokers are getting sticker shock as they go to check out at local outlets like Smokey's Tobacco and Cigars. Employee Stephen Griffin said, "The cigarettes tax went up, an increase of 50 cents a pack. We're going to go up another $5 tomorrow. There won't be a single carton under $30."
Just last month, a federal tax was imposed on all tobacco products. Now that there's an increase in state tax on cigarettes, local stores are taking a bit hit.
Griffin said, "There's not as much money in it as it used to be. Any tax increase we have is going to affect that further."
Some folks aren't too happy about the price hike and feel legislators need to butt out of their habit. Griffin added, "Smokers have always been targeted, the problem is they never tax anyone else."
Unlike gas stations and convenience stores that sell goods to make money, stores like Smokey's rely solely on tobacco sales for revenue. Griffin said the tax, coupled with the slow economy, are bad for business.
He added, "This store always sold a lot of cartons up until now. Everyone's starting to switch to packs and cheaper packs."
Miller added, "I'm going to have to stop spending so much money on it and it's going to make tobacco companies lose money." While the tax increase may prove to be good for people's health, it's certainly not good for business.
John Furrow added, "I'm quitting, they're getting too high."
The store owner said wholesalers have to mark up all of the cigarettes in stock.
They have to pay the new state tax to the Tax Commission by June 15th.
Oof, looks like the price of cigarettes is going to go up even more. Cigarette prices by state are also going to go up.
Web posted at: 5/14/2009 1:11:9
Source ::: The Peninsula/ By Huda NV
DOHA: Qatar and GCC countries can prevent millions of premature deaths if higher taxation and pricing is imposed on tobacco, according to the World Health Organisation.
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has called for awareness on taxation and the myths and facts related to it. World wide, governments can collect revenues from taxes on a lethal product and diverting it for health promotion. Given the heavy burden of tobacco use, particularly in low-income countries where consumption is high, dedicating a portion of revenues from taxes for health promotion initiatives can be easily justified to reduce negative externalities.
The GCC countries can generate higher excise revenues from tobacco products as the currently low excise tax levels and the fact that demand in the region is static to price. This health promotion strategy would entail allocating a portion of their tobacco tax revenues to fund national and other lower income countries’ health care systems.
WHO brushes away the myth that countries with a higher cigarette tax suffer more from the illicit trade. Illicit trade is not a significant factor to justify restricting higher pricing policies. The illicit trade provisions within the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have heightened governmental awareness of such smuggling activities.
Though increasing taxes on cigarettes is regarded as the main cause of smuggling and may increase the incentive for illicit trade of cigarettes, studies demonstrate that other factors may be playing more significant roles in the degree of smuggling activities than higher taxes alone. Higher smuggling activities in low-taxed Mediterranean countries provide a strong example of the comparable illicit trade burden on countries whose tax rates on cigarette products are relatively low.
Any success in curbing the illicit trade rests largely on government’s strong commitments to combating these activities: The higher the commitment, the lower the smuggling, according to WHO.
Cigarette smuggling does not directly apply to the GCC countries. However, WHO warns that these countries, including Qatar, may be at risk of organised long-distance international illicit trade.
Qatar along with other GCC countries relies only on import duties for cigarettes. The GCC customs officials have requested additional time to increase import duties of importers’ prices during the last several years, according to WHO. A 200 percent import duty will increase the import cigarette prices of Qatar to $3.12 per pack, which will be still lower than that of many high income countries’ price levels. The total tax incidence in these countries in 2004-05 was 51percent of the retail price, which were lower than the average retail price and the total tax incidence of upper-middle-income countries.
The export prices per pack of cigarettes to the region vary between $0.12/pack to $0.40/pack. In 2007, GCC countries received 1.9bn packs of cigarettes when the total population was 40m. Qatar alone received 50.7m packs or (55 packs/capita) in 2007.
Of the 1.1bn people who smoke worldwide, 61.8m live in the Middle East region. In the region, tobacco is predicted to kill about 221,880 people in 2010 and increase to 540,281 people in 2030 (World Bank 1999) if the current smoking prevalence rates persist. In accordance with the WHO’s MPOWER policies, governments in Middle East can prevent millions of premature deaths and if they adopt measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, including introducing higher tax and pricing policies which are especially effective among children, adolescents, and the poor.
Cigarette Prices may go up under Obama Administration
It's possible that the Obama Administration may increase cigarette taxes as a way to pay for national healthcare. Reports have come in saying that the government may also tax alcohol as well as cigarettes. Bookmark Cigarette Price Watch for up to date information on cigarette prices and taxes!
May 9, 2009 - News
Local Price Updates
Cigarette Price Watch keeps track of the cigarette prices in the news as well as cigarette tax hikes. We also keep information on the cost of cigarettes in local areas. These come from people who e-mail us or contact us through other methods. Here are the local cigarette price updates for May 9:
These are for top of the line brands like Marlboro or Camel
Central Ohio: $5.25
Salt Lake City: $5.20
Just outside of Atlanta: $6.10
Des Moines, Iowa: $4.75
Boise, ID: $5.50
Cigarette prices by state for early may, from our sources:
Premium brands like Camel, Marlboro, Newports.
Los Angeles, California - $6.75
New Orleans - $4.70
New Jersey- $7.00
Connecticut - $6.20
Casper Wyoming - $5.20
Central Tennessee - $5.55
Indianapolis, Indiana - $5.50
Eastern North Carolina - $4.50
Staten Island - $9.15
N. Virginia - $5.25
Oklahoma City - $4.75
Las Vegas, Nevada - $5.15
Cigarette prices, according to one of our contacts, are around $5.50 to $6.00 per pack at most gas stations and convenience stores in the Olympia, Washington area. Brands like Marlboro and Camel are going for around $5.75 per pack, with other brands for a little bit lower.
The prices for cigrettes is higher in Lacey than in Tumwater and Olympia, according to our contact. He said that in April the cigarette prices took their biggest jump, much higher than the cigarette prices were in 2008. The price of cigs was been hitting that area hard, but the effect is not as bad as in other parts of the country because the economic recession hasn't hit the northwest as badly as the southwest and northeast.
Kools, Basic and Newports were going for a slight bit less than Marlboros.
By ROB CARSON
THE NEWS TRIBUNE
TACOMA, Wash. -- The recession and the biggest federal cigarette tax increase in history - a 62-cents-a-pack hike April 1 - have sent Washington smokers scrambling for ways to quit.
Analysts expect the higher prices to drive cigarette consumption down by about 6.25 percent, leading to an estimated $20.9 million loss in state tax revenue and tobacco settlement money.
The price hike already has caused a boom in the stop-smoking business, and for families of smokers struggling to quit, has increased tension already stretched by the economic slump.
The federal cigarette tax rose to $1.01 a pack April 1, but many manufacturers raised prices in March in response to an expected loss in sales. A pack of premium cigarettes in Washington now costs at least $7, which adds up to more than $2,500 a year for pack-a-day smokers.
In addition to paying the federal tax, Washington's 800,000 smokers face state taxes of $2.025 a pack, the fifth-highest rate in the country after New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Yvonne Russell is one of the smokers driven to quit by the federal tax hike.
"As soon as I found out prices were increasing again, I said, 'No more,' " fumed Russell, 35, a smoker since she was 18. "It's just getting ridiculous."
Russell has three children and takes care of a disabled aunt at her home near the Tacoma Mall. Her husband is a carpenter who feels lucky not to have lost his job in the economic downturn.
Russell said she tried to quit smoking two years ago, the last time the price jumped. Then her resolve slipped and she started up again. The latest tax increase was the last straw, she said.
"It's like, we can either eat, or smoke," Russell said. "What's it going to be?"
For thousands of Washington residents, the answer is to stop smoking.
Managers of the state-sponsored Tobacco Quit Line said calls are running 243 percent higher in April than they were a year ago. The program connects smokers with "quit coaches" and offers at least a two-week supply of nicotine patches or gum (valued at $145) at no charge.
"We've had tremendous volume," said Mary Kate Salley, senior vice president of the Seattle-based company, Free & Clear, which manages the Quit Line.
Last year, in the first three weeks of April, 1,231 people called the Quit Line, Salley said. In the same period this year, the number went up to 4,221.
Business is booming so much that Free & Clear is rapidly increasing its staff, even in the midst of the worst recession in decades, Salley said.
"We've increased staffing by about 29 percent," she said. "We've hired 39 quit coaches and 30 registration intake specialists."
Enrollment in smoking-cessation classes in the state has shown similar increases in the past month.
"We've had a flood of calls from people wanting to quit," said Michael Foley, a spokesman for Group Health Cooperative, which runs stop-smoking clinics in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia.
"The highest volume of inquiries for assistance in quitting smoking is usually right after New Year's Day," Foley said, "but we had 600 people inquire in March, which equals January's volume."
REACHING THE THRESHOLD
"There's a certain number of smokers who will give up many other things in life because of their addiction," said Dr. Patrick Hogan, a Tacoma neurologist who has been working with addicted smokers since the 1980s.
"But there's a certain point where there's a threshold on price, and I think we're getting close to it thank goodness."
Hogan started the Freedom From Tobacco Program at Tacoma's St. Joseph Hospital in 1992 and has been volunteering his time there nearly every week since. The weekly support sessions are free and open to all.
Lately, Hogan said, he's been hearing a consistent refrain at the sessions, where attendance has increased from a half dozen or so in the early years to as many as 50.
"People are saying, 'I've finally gotten to the point where I don't want to give away money that I don't need to give away," Hogan said. "Maybe a year ago they still would have adapted one more time, but with the recession, cost is just that extra motivator. They say, 'Here's one tax that I can avoid.'"
That's the way it worked for Paul and Gretchen Stewart, who recently started attending a Group Health smokers' support group in Tacoma. They were two-pack-a-day smokers until the most recent price increase convinced them to quit.
"I went into a gas station to buy a pack of Marlboros, and it was $7.95," Gretchen Stewart said. "I told the woman, 'I can't believe I'm paying that for cigarettes.' That's when I quit. I haven't bought a pack since."
If they hadn't quit, the Stewarts figure they would have been spending $900 a month on cigarettes. That's money they can no longer afford. They own their own painting company, and the recession has cut deeply into their income.
"We went from a good four or five jobs a month to almost nothing," Gretchen Stewart said. "When people are wanting to save money, the last thing they want to do is paint their house."
Trying to quit has been excruciating, Gretchen Stewart said.
"I've been smoking for 34 years since I was 12 so it's very hard," she said. "I was in the hospital in December with pneumonia. I couldn't breathe, but I still wanted a cigarette. I've been pregnant three times and smoked all through all three of them. If you can't even quit for a child of yours, it's bad."
Still, Stewart said she doesn't think raising taxes is a good way to get people to stop smoking.
"I think it's cruel," she said. "You're taxing the things people have for enjoyment. People should have the right to make their own decision instead of taxing the hell out of it."
Doing without cigarettes means extra stress, and that can upset family relationships.
Gretchen Stewart said she and her husband tried to quit at the same time two years ago and they finally had to start smoking again to save their marriage.
"We got in a huge fight," she said. "We were on I-5 and I told him to make a right or a left, I don't know what it was, but we were just screaming at each other. We don't usually behave that way.
"I'm looking around saying, 'Where's the cigarette?'"
ASSESSING THE IMPACT
Assessing the financial impact of the decline in cigarette sales depends on how you do the arithmetic.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the federal tobacco tax increase will prompt 14,800 Washington adults to quit smoking. At a pack a day, the national average for smokers, that's about $10 million a year in lost tax revenue.
The campaign also estimates the increase will prevent 30,400 kids from becoming adult smokers, which will further reduce the revenue stream.
And fewer smokers means less money from the 1998 Master Tobacco Settlement. Washington gets annual payments as part of the agreement in which the states settled lawsuits against the nation's major tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related health care costs.
This year, Washington's share was about $174 million, according to Cameron Comfort, the senior assistant attorney general who advises state policy makers on financial aspects of the settlement.
If the new federal tax cuts the number of Washington smokers by 6.25 percent, as analysts project, that will mean the state will collect about $10.9 million less money from the fund.
On the other hand, the state will save on certain medical costs.
The federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cigarette smoking is responsible for $193 billion in annual health-related economic losses in the United States.
However, smokers tend to die earlier. The more people who die prematurely from smoking, the less the state has to contribute to expensive elder-care. According to the state Department of Health, about 7,500 people in Washington die every year from tobacco-related diseases.
PAIN IN THE POCKETBOOK
Heidi Henson, co-chairwoman of the tobacco advisory board of Pierce County, said she's not surprised a rush to quit smoking coincided with the federal tax hike.
"Price always has an significant impact," she said. "It's the single most effective way to cut use there is."
Other antismoking efforts are effective, too, Henson said, including restrictions on where smokers can light up, general psychological messages that put smoking in a negative light and emphasizing health effects.
"The harder it is for people to use tobacco, whether it's because of price or location or social pressure, the more likely they are to consider quitting," Henson said.
"If they get dirty looks when they smoke or people make them feel like second-class citizens, it's not easy for them."
But Henson and Salley agree nothing works as well as increasing prices.
"When they get hit in the pocket book, that's when people tend to said, 'OK, that's enough,'" Salley said.
What is Cigarette Price Watch?
CPW is a website that follows and tracks cigarette prices and taxes in the United States. We post news stories and personal reports about tax hikes and the price of cigarettes in local areas and nationally.