The prices of cigarettes have skyrocketed in Illinois as the new tax on the commodity came into effect Sunday. The new levy has meant that an average smoker who shelled out 98 cents for a pack has to now dole out $1.98, an increase in excess of 100 percent.
Chain smokers are left with no option but to pay extra. In order to postpone the additional expenditure for as long as possible, some consumers had started stocking their favorite brands in advance.
It was a common sight to see people of South Illinois driving down to Missouri and Kentucky for their procurements. In fact, the excess demand and hoarding of cigarettes has led to scarcity of the product in certain parts of the state.
“You’re literally sending business away from Illinois,” rued Mike Saurs, co-owner of a store that sells cigarettes.
Yet, for others, the hike may well prove to be a blessing in disguise. Not everyone can afford to pay double the amount for cigarettes. Kicking the butt is the answer for them.
“I've quit for a while. My wife was trying to get me to quit, my son was trying to get me to quit. Actually it was a good thing, it made me healthier,” said David Ladd, a smoker.
The decision of the state government to double the tax on cigarettes will kill two birds with one stone. One, it will enhance the quantum of tax collections and two; it will cut smoking rates in general.
“Every research organization that’s looked at this ... has concluded that raising price is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, especially among young people,” Danny McGoldrick, vice president of research for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, was quoted as saying in the Daily Herald.