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.