Proposed cigarette tax has tobacco stores upset

Proposed cigarette tax has tobacco stores upset

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Louisiana is facing an $870 million shortfall. In just three days, the Louisiana legislative session begins. The state's 56th governor will make a historic address about the frail economy Thursday evening, while lawmakers file bills for the upcoming session.

One of Governor Edwards' possible proposals for stabilizing the budget is to increase taxes. Some of those taxes would be tacked onto the so-called "sin" taxes, including cigarettes and alcohol.

If passed, this would be the second tax increase for cigarettes in less than a year, and that has tobacco users fed up at the continuous price hikes.

"We've already been taxed, that would be doing us twice - three times, in less than a year," said Sharrie Booker, the manager of the Tobacco House on Mansfield Road.

Sharrie Booker is the manager of the Tobacco House on Mansfield Road. They are warning all of their customers about a potential tax increase on cigarettes.

Governor John Bel Edwards has proposed raising the current tax from 86 cents per pack to $1.08 a pack. That is 22 cents more for each pack of cigarettes.

In July 2015, the tax on smokes went up 50 cents a pack. Booker says this proposal targets a specific group of people.

"It won't help the tax in the long run, because yes, they're taxing the tobacco, but okay, this person can't afford it anymore, so they're going to quit. Okay, now who are you going to tax," said Booker.

Customers agree.

We asked financial planners from Evans Financial Group if so-called "sin" taxes really work.

"I don't think just taxing one particular group of people or one particular product is going to solve the problem," said David Evans, the President of Evans Financial Group.

So at more than $10 more a carton, some say it will not do any good. Most customers we spoke with said they would not quit because of a tax hike. But some say they may have to buy their packs in a different state.

"A lot of your hard smokers are still smoking, and they're still on set incomes. A lot of them," said Booker.

We also spoke to Louisiana Treasurer, John Kennedy, about the proposed tax hikes. He says that this would be the largest tax increase in the history of Louisiana.

"I'm opposed to all taxes, even discussing them, I don't even want to hear the word taxes or tax code until we get our spending under control," said Kennedy.

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