Cigarettes will cost more in Wisconsin starting today. The hike is bitter sweet for an anti-tobacco group. Rock County Youth2youth Director Debbie Fischer calls the tax increase a “positive” move in curbing smoking but has issue with tobacco control dollars being slashed 55-percent in the state budget. Tobacco control goes to prevention programs and helping people kick the habit.
At $2.52 a pack, Wisconsin’s cigarette tax is now the fifth-highest in the country, and the highest among its neighbors. Illinois has the lowest cigarette tax among neighboring states but Fischer doesn’t believe the price difference will prompt many people to drive there for cheaper smokes. She adds adult smokers ready to quit only buy a pack at a time while kid smokers, who are not as mobile, rely on local outlets.
Groups that represent gas stations and grocery stores say the tax hike will reduce their non-fuel sales by 25-to-40 percent. Also, cigarettes are not the only tobacco products going up today. The tax on chewing tobacco is now 100-percent of the wholesale price. Cigars, pipe tobacco, and other such products will have their tax jump from 50-percent to 71-percent of wholesale.
AUDIO: Brian Moon reports (MP3 :60)
Beth Wheelock-WCLO contributed to this report