New, higher cigarette prices take effect Wednesday - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New, higher cigarette prices take effect Wednesday

Dubuque (KWWL) -- Cigarette prices are going up. On April 1, the price per pack will jump because of an increase in the federal sales tax. The tax will raise prices 62 cents. That will bring the total tax to just more than one dollar a pack

Some smokers say this increase is forcing them to consider quitting, but others say they're not quitting, and still others are cutting back, or looking at cheaper alternatives.

Tamra Weeks says the latest price hikes don't have her kicking the habit, but coming up with ways to save and keep smoking.

"I buy roll your owns now, and it's cheaper. I get a months worth of tobacco for 20 bucks, not even," Weeks said.

Ayana Morris says the cost is definitely making it tougher to keep lighting up.

"My family members, they're trying to stop smoking because they're like seven dollars, like $6.60 now, you know what I'm saying. So, they trying to cut back on smoking," Morris said.

And with a tough economy, the increases hit harder.

"That's cutting into, you know, what they gotta do in their daily lives, like car insurance and rent and stuff," Morris said.

Hillcrest Family Services anti-tobacco coordinator Kara Schroeder says high costs are a huge factor in quitting.

"The big reason that I would think would be for health purposes, but mostly, it's money. And the second would be their doctor has told them they have to," Schroeder said.

Schroeder hopes Uncle Sam's latest tax might also help with prevention.

"Most people who start smoking are under the age of 18, unfortunately, and teens just can't afford that," Schroeder said.

A part of that statistic, Weeks says she's been smoking since she was eleven While high costs aren't getting her to quit, she's still thought about it.

"I want to quit for my health, but that's about it," Weeks said.

That's something some other smokers think might be an added benefit of high costs causing potentially less smoking.

"It's good for people health, so it's a good thing," Morris said.

Hillcrest Family Services says it takes the average person ten tries to quit smoking, but they say using resources like quit-smoking patches and prescriptions and, more importantly, support is the easiest way.

The extra revenue from the federal tax increase will fund a major expansion of health insurance for children. The total expected to be raised over the health-insurance expansion is $33 billion.

In addition to the increased tax -- major tobacco companies have already increased prices to compensate for drop offs in profits tied to the tax increase. Phillip Morris increased the price per pack by 71 cents per pack earlier this month.

Other tobacco makers followed suit. This includes R.J Reynolds; the company bumped its prices by 44 cents a pack and also reduced discounting.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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