Georgians may see cigarettes costing more
By Amy Morrow
Eyewitness News Anchor/ Reporter
ROSSVILLE, WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -- A pack of cigarettes may cost customers more in Georgia.
It's not even a formal bill working its way through the legislature, but, cigarette distributors are talking about a plan to boost the state tax by more than 30 cents a pack.
"Everything else is going up, why not smokes," says Jamie Millholland.
Few smokers have heard because lawmakers are still just flirting with the idea of a cigarette tax hike in the peach state.
"No, I hadn't heard but I'm not surprised," says Langdale.
In January a group called the special council on tax reform and fairness for Georgians pitched a plan to restructure the tax code, including a 31 cent jump on a pack of smokes.
"Is that the same state that wants to cut out pre-k?," asks Millholland.
"They just seem to keep going up on taxes on everything actually," says Langdale.
The council says 31 cents more per pack would raise 114 million dollars in tax revenue.
"If you're gonna raise taxes, raise it on cigarettes, or beer... Make 'em leave the gas alone," says Linda Perry.
The owners of Ross' Thriftway says there's no doubt a cigarette tax increase will cut into business, it could even send some customers over state lines to shop.
"Yea, I'd be a lot easier to stay right there in Chattanooga, they're cheaper here," says Paul Bailes.
But if they don't stay that way, some say it's time for a change and others say it will take more.
"I think I'm gonna quit, I really do, I need to do that and I don't wanna keep paying more taxes on stuff," says Langdale.
"It don't matter what they cost I'm gonna smoke," says Bailes.
"My husband passed in December, I have family to take care of, I'll let the cigarettes go," says Perry.
"If they keep going up to 60 dollars a carton, I'll quit," says Bailes.
That's exactly what health advocates are hoping, the cost would push smokers to quit. They say the 31 cents is not enough.
There hasn't been a cigarette tax hike in Georgia since 2003.