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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Smokers finding it costs more to light up

http://www.wave3.com/Global/story.asp?S=9957552

Smokers finding it costs more to light up
Posted: Mar 05, 2009 10:58 PM EST Updated: Mar 05, 2009 11:05 PM EST

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Smokers in Kentucky were already getting ready for a price increase, now there is word cigarette prices around the country are going up. This increase takes place Friday as Philip Morris is raising prices on popular brands, like Marlboro, by more than $7.00 a carton.

That $7.00 increase is on top of the state's $6.00 per carton increase that starts in April. I spoke with Philip Morris about the decision.

"Mostly on the weekends they will just come in and wipe us out," said Brittney Tolliver.

Tolliver is an employee at Cox's Smokers Outlet on Arthur Street, where she says business is better than usual. "Some people come in and they will just want to get a whole case," said Tolliver. "They don't even care what kind."

Business is so good the store has put a three-carton limit on customers. The reason? Customers are stocking up because of both the Federal and State excise tax that takes effect in April. However, starting Friday, Philip Morris is also raising its prices, sort of.

The major manufacturer of Marlboro, Virginia Slims, and Basic will raise prices by $7.00 a carton for some brands and $8.00 a carton on others. When I called Philip Morris, a spokesperson told me the company is really only raising their prices up to $2.00 a carton. The other $6.00 is the new Federal excise tax; they are just starting it three weeks early. Regardless, it is a move that has stunned those in the health field.

"I'm very surprised about that," laughed Dr. Adewale Troutman, the Director for Metro Public Health and Wellness. "I don't know what their ultimate motivation is, but sure it will reduce the number of kids that pick up a cigarette."

Still some smokers feel they are being put in the position to carry the financial woes of America.

"It's crazy. It's crazy," said smoker Kari Koblitz. "I mean with the way the economy is going and everything else, you don't have any enjoyments anymore. Nobody can afford them."

Remember, Kentucky's new cigarette tax will take effect in April. That will be an additional $3.00 per carton.

Philip Morris says they are not to one's to blame. The company spokesperson told WAVE 3 when it is all said and done, if you pay $40.00 for a carton of cigarettes $24.24 goes to the government. The other $14.76 is shared profit by the manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer.

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