Smokers grasping for break at the register

POSTED: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 9:46pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 11:01am

Money from the tobacco tax will go to expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program

TYLER - Its business as usual at Tyler Tobacco Tuesday, except the mood is slightly different.

Smokers are fuming to see their cash go up in smoke as the government increase taxes.

"I've seen the taxes go up and up," said Ray Norton. "It's called 'sin tax."

Pete Mendolia, owner of Tyler Tobacco, said: "People that smoke feel like they're being singled out to carry on the economic burden of this country."

The federal tax on all tobacco products kicks in the first week of April.

Philip Morris, the company that owns Marlboro and 17 other brands, raised the cost of cigarettes Monday, weeks ahead of schedule.

"I think Philip Morris is a profit-motivating company and they see opportunity to make a little extra money," said Mendolia.

Speaking of money, Marlboro smokers are now paying about a dollar more per pack.

The price tag on some cartons of cigarettes will spike eight dollars.

Mrs Bell, a non-smoker, says she's fed up with the price of husband's bad habit.

She admits the tax hike could be a blessing after all.

"He says he's going to quit," she said. "I hope he does."

Ray Norton plans to keep puffing.

He says it will actually be the smokers who get the last laugh.

"Because this country will lose billions in tax revenue from tobacco," Norton said.

Money from the tobacco tax will go to expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

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