Over $10 A Pack: NY Lawmakers To Vote On Cigarette Tax Monday

Jun. 21, 2010

A new tobacco tax may soon be forcing smokers in New York State to cough up some more cash.

The state legislature was expected to vote Monday on a proposal to raise the tax on cigarettes by $1.60. It's part of Governor Paterson's latest emergency budget bill.

If passed, the new tax would push the price of a pack of smokes over the $10 mark in the five boroughs while generating an estimated $440 million in revenue.

New York is trying to close a $9 billion budget hole, but smokers and tobacco dealers were opposed to the proposed hike.

"I don't think it's really fair to just attack the smokers," West Harrison resident Darlene O'Keeffe said.

"I've traveled around the whole world Europe and everywhere [but] already I spent the most money in this city on cigarettes. So, naturally, it's bad," Manhattan resident Jean Paul de Boissezon said.

Not only would the cost be felt in consumer's wallets, but by the stores that sell tobacco products as well. "Right now, we're paying 46 percent state tax, and they want to bring it up to 90 [percent]," George Vasquez, assistant manager at De La Concha tobacco shop, said. "I think that will put a lot of the retailers out of business, and a lot of people into the unemployment line."

Some of the non-smokers who spoke to CBS 2 on Saturday felt that an additional tax would provide another benefit, other than added revenue. "I think it would be good to deter young kids from doing it," Candice Scharf, of Baldwin, said. "They have limited income, so that way they may not want to spend that extra $1.60."

"If it becomes too expensive, more people will quit, which would be so much better," Purchase resident Nancy DeRosa said.

CBS 2's Mark Morgan contributed to this report.

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