Now, it's South Carolina's turn to crack down on nicotine addiction. Thursday, the state's government is planning to rise cigarette tax up to 57 cents a pack from its current 7 cents a pack.
Smokers can expect to cough up an additional $5 a carton.
Residents, retailers and health care advocates are split on the whether the increased tax, which will help pay for health care for the state’s poor, cancer research and smoking prevention and cessation programs, is a good thing.
Smokers stand upon their own rights and keep on insisting that taxes on cigarettes are extremely high. They strongly criticize smoking cessation programs based on killing cigarette prices.
However according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every S.C. household pays nearly $600 a year to cover tobacco-related health care costs.
“There is a huge direct and indirect tax burden to everyone in South Carolina, whether they smoke or not,” said Louis Eubank, director of the collaborative. “So what you’re talking about is a lessening of that burden. Plus, people will be healthier.”
“They should raise it to $10 per pack,” said Richard Lee, 58, as he manned the office at his auto repair shop, Richard’s Automotive, in West Columbia.
Still not everyone agrees.
Just steps outside of Lee’s office, one of his mechanics, David Davis, offers a different take on the tax increase as he works on a BMW.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Davis. A smoker for the past 20 years, Davis said he smokes 11/2 packs a day, depending on how long his work day stretches.
“Some people are going to stop smoking (because of the tax increase), and, eventually, the state will get less money,” he said. “And that will put some businesses out of business.”
Those same two reasons — the regressive nature of the tax and its effect on cigarette retailers — persuaded Gov. Mark Sanford and some state lawmakers to reject a proposed increase.
At the same time cigarette online stores continue to boost sales even despite of the cigarette mail ban, which takes effect on June 29. Why buy mail-order cigarettes when you can run to the local store to get them? Cigarettes is cheaper to purchase by mail due to the fact that there is no tax imposed on them. Is there a difference when you pay $7 per pack of Marlboro or $24 (including delivery) per carton of Marlboro? The answer is obvious...
So, we can only guess whether smokers stand up their rights to buy cigarettes for affordable prices, whether cigarette mailing is stopped, whether cigarette taxes reach enormous price.