SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) - Starting tomorrow, Massachusetts will have the second highest cigarette tax in the country. This comes after the legislature passed the $1 increase per pack as part of a new transportation bill.
Already, cigarettes aren’t cheap – running around $7 or $8 a pack.
But as of Wednesday, the price is going up yet again as the state tax increases a dollar a pack.
“We’ve been in business 13 years and right now our overall volume is roughly 25 to 35 percent at most at what it was at one time, and why do you think that is? Higher taxes,” said Al Alves, owner of Smok’in Deals in Springfield.
That means going forward on the cheap end, a pack of generic cigarettes like Eagle 20′s will cost roughly $7.30.
Well-known brands like Newport and Marlboro Red will be around $9.50, and Camel non-filters, more than $11.
It’s enough to have some smokers stocking up, like this woman, who didn’t want to be identified.
“A carton will last me 10 days. I smoke a pack a day, so that will be 4 months. [And a significant savings] Yes it is.”
She drove in from Connecticut to buy 12 cartons for more than $841, less than she’d pay over the border, at least for one more day.
But Wednesday, Massachusetts vaults over Connecticut’s cigarette tax of $3.40 a pack to a whopping $3.51.
“I get comments like that all the time from customers. ‘Do you know how cheap they are in New Hampshire? Do you know how cheap they are in North Carolina? And you know every time they can they buy a ton of them and they go regularly out of state and buy their cigarettes,” said Alves.
Which may be something mass lawmakers haven’t considered – raising cigarette taxes to the point where people buy them elsewhere or don’t buy them at all.
Considering how addictive they are though, Western New England University economics professor Karl Petrick doesn’t think many will quit over the increase.
“There is still going to be those people that are going to pay and are very reluctant to stop and so in that sense, compared to other things, it’s a fairly stable tax,” Petrick notes.
And our anonymous Connecticut smoker bore that out, “I’m going to try and quit. It’s going to be hard. I’ll try, but I don’t think I can do it.”
State lawmakers say the revenue from the cigarette tax, along with a 3 cent-per-gallon increase in the gas tax, will be used to modernize our aging transportation infrastructure.