As the federal tax on cigarettes goes up 62 cents, will smokers smolder?

Kristyn Soltis

Photo illustration by Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Mia Katirji, senior marketing major, has been smoking since she was 15 years old and was surprised by the latest increase in the price of cigarettes.

“Shit, I better stock up,” she said.

Other smokers may be inclined to quit after a 62-cent federal tax raise on cigarettes enacts today, the single largest price increase on tobacco in history.

The increase will bring the federal tax on cigarettes from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack.

At the beginning of the year, the average retail price per pack of cigarettes was $4.35, with variations due to state taxes and individual retail business practices.

Currently, Cuyahoga County experiences the highest costs for cigarettes in Ohio, as it charges an additional 34 and a half cents per pack countywide. One pack costs $6.20, or 31 cents per cigarette.

Taxes are also increasing on other tobacco products such as cigars and loose tobacco.

Roll-your-own tobacco is taking the biggest hit from the federal tax rate, increasing per pound from $1.10 to $24.78.

Katirji says her consumption of cigarettes daily is debatable, but lately she has been cutting back – 10 cigarettes a day. That’s down from her pack a day just last week.

The increased tax will help fund a major expansion of children’s health care, the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan, or SCHIP, signed into law by President Barack Obama on Feb. 4.

SCHIP is estimated to achieve $33 billion with the tax boost over a period of four and a half years.

“I heard about that,” Katirji said. “I think that they should help people quit smoking and have it go towards that rather than children’s health care, to be honest with you.”

Kayla Warmuth, freshman marketing major, who has never tried a cigarette, said she believes the plan for the tax money is a smart idea the way it is.

“The higher tax may encourage people to quit because they can’t afford (cigarettes), and the money goes to a good cause,” Warmuth said.

Christy Carpenter, assistant manager at Circle K in Kent, said she doesn’t believe her store will see any decline in sales after the price raise.

Contact student finance reporter Kristyn Soltis at [email protected].