The $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes in Florida that hit in July may be responsible for a sharp decline in sales, the Tampa Bay Fox News affiliate reported.
State figures show that sales dropped 26% between July and September, compared to the same three months the year before.
Dora Casler, a long-time c-store employee, who has been selling cigarettes since 1988, told the news station she thinks 90% of her customers are trying to quit.
“One way or another-they are trying to quit. With the patch, with the help of a doctor, hypnotist-they’re trying any way they can to break the habit,” Casler said.
She said when federal taxes increased in January, she saw the results right away and when the $1-per-pack kicked in July 1, customers started switching to less expensive brands. The cheapest cigarettes in Florida run t $3.49 a pack, compared with $8 a pack for the most expensive brands.
The drop over the three-month period equates to 81 million fewer packs sold, which also means revenue projections are off by $81 million.
“Doesn’t bother me a bit,” State Senator Dennis Jones of Seminole, who chairs one of the committees that approved the tax, told Fox News. “If the tax revenues come down on the one side as far as collections, our Medicaid costs on respiratory illnesses also reduce on the other side.”