Alabama Facing Cigarette Tax Hike

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Alabama Facing Cigarette Tax Hike

MOBILE, Ala. -- Smokers in Alabama could soon be coughing up more cash when it comes to buying their cigarettes: the governor's tax reform plan would double the tax on a pack of cigarettes. And that amount could jump, if voters pass the governor's $1.2 billion tax reform plan. This would double the pack tax from 16.5 cents to 31 cents and would generate more than $52 million a year.

But most smokers say they'll just suck it up, and pay the increase. "Until I can find the Patch that works, until I can stop. Otherwise, once you're addicted, you're there," Mobile resident Eric Lee told the Associated Press.

Tax on other tobacco, like cigars and chew tobacco, would also double. But the plan's backers say Alabama's tax would still be well below the national average of 70.5 cents a pack.

The push for a tobacco tax increase was led by antismoking advocates such as the American Cancer Society. Its members lobbied state legislators for a 50-cent excise tax in May. "Numerous studies have shown if you increase the tobacco tax, that will reduce the smoking incidence rates, particularly among youth, " said Lindsey Spear, communications and marketing director for the mid-South division of the American Cancer Society.

Some critics, however, say it will force smokers to go from this market, to the black market, or wherever else they can find a better deal, such as on-line, or across states lines.

"A smoker's going to smoke and probably do whatever he has to get it," said Lee. "If he can get it cheap somewhere else, that's what he'll do."