Early adoption of tobacco tax has smokers fuming

Some Champaign-Urbana smokers are angry about local stores’ early enactment of the 155 percent federal excise tax on certain tobacco products. Its start date was supposed to be April 1.

Charles Williams, an employee of the Discount Smoke Shop, 807 Bloomington Road, Champaign, said that prices of certain brands have already increased. He also said that prices of cartons have already increased, but prices of generic brands and “loose stuff” will not increase until April 1.

Evan Beverly, junior in Engineering and an employee of Colonial Pantry, 312 E. Green St., said he has noticed particular brands becoming more expensive, notably Parliament cigarettes. He said that the price of tobacco itself is particularly elevated.

“We have a lot of signs out and people make comments,” Williams said. “I’ve encountered a lot of comments and complaints. A lot have commented that they’re going to quit.”

Williams said he doesn’t think it’s fair that the government is taxing smokers so heavily, but he added that he understands “smoking isn’t necessary.”

“I think they see more and more smokers every day, every month; they’re just trying to make money off of it,” he said. Williams said he’s noticed some smokers stocking up on products before the price hike in April. Beverly said he hasn’t noticed this pattern with his customers yet.

“There’s been more complaining than stocking up,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that there’s been a lot of stocking up yet.”

Although the prices have increased, Beverly said he doesn’t believe business will slow down.

“They’re still buying,” Beverly said. “I think it’ll make people say that they want to (quit), but I don’t think they’ll actually stop.”

Mickey Moriarty, freshman in DGS, said he is not discouraged by the excise tax.

“I mean, it’s terrible,” he said. “They’ve already gone up so much. They’ve already tossed us out in the cold. The government won’t get rid of us.”