July 2, 2010
New cigarette tax burdens smokers
Bill Dallaire, a downtown Cortland business owner, said Thursday he will quit smoking cigarettes in two months now that his habit is more expensive.
Dallaire’s comments came the same day New York state imposed a new tax on cigarettes, which adds another $1.60 to the cost of a pack. The average price is about $9 or $10.
“It’s getting too expensive and I’m starting to have breathing problems,” Dallaire said outside the Beach House Mall on Main Street, which he owns.
New York now has the highest taxes on cigarettes nationally.
Smokeless tobacco will see a tax of $2 an ounce on Aug. 1. The wholesale tax on other tobacco products will rise to 75 percent from 46 percent.
Dallaire, who said he has been planning to quit smoking cigarettes because of health problems before the tax was imposed, said he agrees with the government’s actions.
The taxes will provide $440 million in revenue for health care programs, including subsidies for AIDS drugs, money for tobacco cessation programs and $71.6 million for the state cancer research center in Buffalo.
“If they’re (state government) going to tax something, I’d say tax something like that (cigarettes)” said Dallaire, who began smoking cigarettes when he was 12. He is 54 now.
Not every smoker shares Dallaire’s view.
“This is bonkers!” said Carmella Hill inside the Daily Grind on Main Street.
Hill stopped at the store to purchase cigarettes for her boyfriend.
Hill was shopping for a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes. On Wednesday a pack was $7.80, but on Thursday the price was $8.42.
Rachel Mosher, a manager at the Daily Grind, and also a smoker, said customers have been complaining about the new tax since it was imposed.
“Everyone’s quitting,” Mosher said.
Hill, 41, said she has been smoking cigarettes since she was 18. She said she smokes about 200 cigarettes, which she rolls herself, in a week.
She said because of the new tax she plans to quit smoking; she will also urge her boyfriend to quit his smoking habit.
“The price is outrageous,” she said.
On Sept. 1, the state also plans to begin collecting taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations to off-reservation visitors.
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