WKYT - Perry - Headlines

Smokers, store owners unhappy over possible cigarette tax hike

By: Tanner Hesterberg Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg Email

BONNYMAN, Ky. (WYMT) - Smokers in eastern Kentucky are not happy about the possibility of cigarette prices going up.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform has endorsed a proposal to increase the cigarette tax by forty cents per pack.

"I think they are high enough," smoker Leroy Colwell said. "I said i was going to quit when the price got to two dollars a pack but I haven't yet."

The commission recommended raising the cigarette tax from 60 cents to one dollar per pack. If okayed by the General Assembly, the hike would be the second since 2009, when it was doubled by 30 cents per pack.

"I think that the people who set these standards should try and look at another way to generate revenue other than constantly beating the working man," smoker James Joseph said.

Peggy Miller, the manager of Drew's Mini Mart in Perry County, said more than half of her profits came from cigarettes.

"When the prices go up, people don't stop," Miller said. "They just keep smoking what they normally do. They quarrel about it a little bit but other than that they still smoke."

Cigarettes would not be the only item taxed if the proposal becomes law. Products like chewing tobacco would also get pricier, meaning some people may have to give up chewing or smoking.

"I'm supposed to (quit) anyway," Colwell said. I have a bad heart and the doctor told me to quit smoking. So I guess I'll have to quit."

Joseph said, "In some states, it's six or seven dollars a pack. So I guess in a way we're a little bit fortunate that they are what they are. But when do you draw the line? When is enough enough?"

That is a question smokers are anxiously awaiting to have answered.

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