Cigarette Tax Goes up $2 This Saturday

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. - Starting this Saturday, April 1, cigarettes and tobacco related products are going to be much more expensive. The tax on them will go up by $2 dollars, from $0.87, to $2.87.

Voters passed the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act, otherwise known as Proposition 56, last November. Many health professionals hope the tax hike will deter people from smoking. Voters in Fresno County passed Prop 56 by 57-percent. Now, smokers are looking at spending nearly $9 dollars on a pack of cigarettes.

The owner of the University Market on Shaw and Willow is Chris Benjamin. He said, "It's a draw, it's more of a draw. I mean, you don't make a great margin on cigarettes, but it's a mandatory thing to have in your store. It's like lottery."

Benjamin said he's gearing up for the tax on cigarettes to go up an additional $2 on Saturday.

"We'll get some quitters, you know, but I think if you're a smoker, you're a smoker, and you're just gonna pay the price," stated Benjamin.

Judith Smith has been a smoker nearly all her life.

She said, "I smoke one pack every two days."

Smith said she's willing to spend as much money as it costs to get her nicotine fix.

"It calms me down. It's like a sedative. I don't drink or do anything of that nature, and it's just my little sedative," stated Smith.

But those behind the "Yes on Prop 56" campaign say they hope the more expensive cigarettes will motivate smokers to quit or cut back.

Kaiser Permanente Dr. Nicole Calvillo said, "It is a lot of money and a lot of our patients that smoke are on fixed incomes, so when it comes to paying for your medications or rent, or groceries, or cigarettes, hopefully they're all choosing not to buy the cigarettes."

The California Public Health Department said tobacco control efforts like Prop 56 have reduced smoking rates by half, and it has saved the State $134 billion dollars in health care costs. The funds will go towards tobacco-use prevention programs, the State's new Oral Health Program, and it will fund research on tobacco-related illnesses like cancer and heart disease.


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