For Andrew Imel, a 62-cent tax increase on every pack of cigarettes isn’t going to curb his habit.
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Imel said Tuesday, following a tobacco purchase at a Lawrence gasoline station.
The single largest federal tobacco tax increase ever takes effect today. A pack of smokes in Lawrence now costs between $4 and $8 a pack, after the federal tax increased from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack.
Medical groups see a tax increase right in the middle of a recession as a great incentive to help persuade smokers to quit.
The major cigarette makers actually raised prices a couple of weeks ago to offset any drop in profits from the new tax.
But so far, the increase has had little impact on cigarette sales in Lawrence, said Don Murphy, of Louisiana Amoco BP, 2301 La.
“People are still buying,” said Murphy, a smoker himself. “You can’t give up everything.”
Tobacco taxes are soaring to finance a major expansion of health insurance for children.
Other tobacco products, from cigars to pipe and smokeless tobacco, will see similarly large tax increases, too.
Despite a 40-cent increase in tax for most cigars, only time will tell how it affects business, said Rich Spangler, owner of Centro Cigars at Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive.
“It will affect, we just don’t know to what extent,” Spangler said.