Heading for the Border

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- A new cigarette tax in Pennsylvania has some residents filtering into West Virginia for cheaper smokes.

Pennsylvania's cigarette tax jumped Monday from 31 cents to $1 per pack, making it the sixth-highest state tax in the United States. Prices now peak at $4 per pack and $40 per carton. Pennsylvania lawmakers say the increase is expected to bring in millions of dollars in revenues and help cut smoking rates, the Associated Press reported.

In West Virginia, the cigarette tax is just 17 cents per pack. Only eight other states have a lower tax. Prices in some border stores in Monongalia County stores range from about $2 for generic brands to $3 for brand-name cigarettes. Cartons range from $17 to just over $30.

"I served one woman today who drove an hour to buy two cartons," Rebecca Ward, assistant manager of a West Virginia Dairy Mart told the AP. "She said it was well worth it."

At Cottrell's Country Store in Morgantown, W.Va., owner Frankie Cottrell said he's seen only a slight increase in cigarette sales because Pennsylvania residents already make up a good part of his business.

Ron Rae, owner of Tobacco World in Uniontown, Pa., hopes the increase doesn't bring on a wave of cigarette thefts. "One of my friends had their car broken into recently," Rae said. "He had a computer in the car, but instead, the thief took a carton of cigarettes."