New Yorkers prepare for cigarette tax hike

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010 | Lara Greenberg | Categories:
CORNING, N.Y. -- A big change for smokers in New York is right around the corner. A cigarette tax hike of $1.60 goes into effect July 1st, making New York the most expensive state to buy cigarettes. And it's making New York smoke shop owners angry. "Instead of doing the right thing and cutting spending, all they do is tax us, tax us, tax us," said Brown's Cigar Store co-owner in New York Terry Smith. Smith says he expects a significant decrease in foot traffic in his store. But lawmakers in Albany say increasing this tax is also a good way to get smokers to quit. New Yorkers say they disagree. "I think the tax has nothing to do with cigarettes, and it's nothing to do with health. I think it's a cop out. It's another way for an organization to mismanage money," said William Cornell, a former smoker. The people I spoke with say smokers aren't going to quit after the tax increase and are willing to cross the border into Pennsylvania to get the cheapest prices on these. "Lawrenceville, Tioga, yea, we'll be down there. Or we'll be up in the Indian Reservation until that situation's all taken care of," said Dennis Dann, a smoker. And stores owners in Pennsylvania will gladly take the extra business. "I look for more people to come this way. I mean we have quite a few people that work down this way from New York State that are here anyway. But I look for more people to come this way because we're really not that far," said Tobacco Alley salesclerk in Pennsylvania Traci Gerould. At least not far enough to keep the smokers away. The smoke shop owners in both New York and Pennsylvania say they're seeing more and more people buying mail-order cigarettes or buying tobacco in bulk and making their own.
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