California smokers could face steep tax increase for a pack

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The backers of a campaign to raise the state's cigarette tax say they collected enough signatures for the November ballot and they hope to raise the cost of each pack by $2.00. (KFSN)

Smokers in California could soon be paying more for tobacco.

The backers of a campaign to raise the state's cigarette tax say they collected enough signatures for the November ballot and they hope to raise the cost of each pack by $2.00.

In the three months, D's Smokehouse has been open the ping of the cash register has been growing fainter and fainter.

"First month was going alright, second month was alright," owner Diya Musleh said. "This month, I just started, has been going downhill."

Right now, a pack of Marlboro's at his store costs about $5.50, but a campaign is trying to increase the state's cigarette tax.

Meaning customers have to pay an additional $2.00 at the register.

"They can barely afford $6.00 cigarettes," Musleh said. "When they come in and I tell them $8.80 a pack of cigarettes, they're going to flip out."

The proposed tax comes at the heels of other anti-tobacco legislation.

Last month, Governor Jerry Brown voted to increase the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, and Musleh says his customers are already preparing for the worst.

"I have orders from customers that are telling me, 'Give me 3,4,5 cartons before taxes go up,'" he said.

Supporters hope the higher cost of cigarettes would discourage young people from smoking while raising money for anti-smoking campaigns.

Some smokers say they do believe the effort will help deter teenagers from falling into addiction.

"Yeah, to be honest, I do," smoker Bryan Legaspi said. "Smoking with my dad, I feel bad. I wonder how he feels smoking with this son."

But for Musleh, it's just another blow to an already suffering business he needs to support his family.

"It's going to hurt us," he said. "$2.00 is a lot of money."
Related Topics:
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