Mixed Reaction to Proposed Cigarette Tax Hike

Rhonda Smith knows paying 70 cents more for a pack of smokes will cost her dearly.

“I buy 2 packs a day,” she says.

But she feels helping the state's budget by taxing her habit isn't fair.

“They keep taxing the smoker. They aren't going to quit smoking. Then who are they going to tax?” Smith asked.

But health officials say a tobacco tax is a good idea, primarily because it will keep kids from lighting up.

“Research shows an increase in tobacco tax, decreases use in tobacco, whether it be preventing someone from starting or by the amount they actually smoke,” said Peggy Tiller with the Lake Cumberland District Health Department.

But some question whether a higher tax will really make people kick the habit.

“If they're looking for more people to quit..it might, but probably in the long run, they're still going to spend the money. I probably will,” said smoker Donnie Nicholas of Somerset.

One side says the tax will prevent sickness, but the other says it will increase their financial pain.

“Since Kentucky has a high incidence of tobacco use and illness related to tobacco use, we fell it will be beneficial to raise the tax,” said Tiller.

“If a person smokes a pack a day, you're looking at $3.50 a day, $14 a month times a year, an extra $160 a year. Things are tight, it will put a pinch on everybody,” said Nicholas.

Come next year, it will be up to lawmakers to decide which side wins.

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