Cigarette tax could skyrocket - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cigarette tax could skyrocket

December 22, 2002

Albany- Thirty percent of all cancer deaths can be attributed to tobacco, and lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women.

The statistics are scary, but Americans are continuing to light up. "Cancer is nothing to joke with," says Connie Pegg, who has been smoking for about 30 years.

Now, the American Cancer Society is planning an attack on cigarette smoking by hitting smokers in their pockets. They want the General Assembly to put a 75 cent excise tax on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco...raising the Georgia cigarette tax to 87 cents a pack.

A pack of premium cigarettes already sells for about $3.95 a pack with tax, but with the extra tax it would raise the price to $4.70.

South Georgians have mixed feelings about the possible price hike. "I think that will be a little too high because they're already a little too high, but I imagine if they do I'm still going to buy them," says Emanuel Buchannon, a smoker for almost 20 years.

"It's a good idea, it's a good idea. Something to think about; cancer is nothing to laugh at," adds Pegg.

They even disagree about whether the extra tax will help prevent smoking. "It made me think twice. I spent about $80 a month on cigarettes; that's a bill pretty much. That's why I quit too," claims ex-smoker Mathew Pollock.

"If they're going to do it, they're going to do it. It doesn't matter how much it costs. they could be flat broke and if they want a cigarette, they're going to go spend the money it takes to get one," says ex-smoker Amanda Pope.

Smokers will just have to wait and see if they will pay the price for lighting up.

The American Cancer Society will introduce their idea to the General Assembly when it convenes on January 13th. The Georgia tobacco tax has not been increased in 30 years.

Posted at 2:15 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com