Business Increases Ahead Of Cigarette Tax Hike

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- In six days, Tennessee will more than triple its tax on cigarettes.

If stores pass it on directly, a pack will cost you 42 cents more.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford tells us convenience stores are starting to selling out as smokers stock up.

"The manager has ordered accordingly to make up for the higher sales that we're having now," said Pamela Lee, a cashier at the Cargo-Exxon.

Lee says cigarette sales have been up about 25 percent over the past two weeks.

"It's good now," Lee said. "What we're concerned about is after it goes up, what are the cigarette sales going to be then, because we're expecting them to be lower."

The cashier says any drop in cigarettes sales will definitely hurt them.

"We rely on them a lot and we sell a lot," she said. "We have a lot of regular customers."

Regular customers who are upset with the tax increase.

"I think it's ridiculous," said Mike Hodge, a smoker and regular customer. "They get enough taxes off us the way it is."

Cargo won't lose cigarette sales from regular Mike Hodge.

"I'm going to continue smoking no matter how much they go up," Hodge said.

He told us he smokes three packs a day.

"Three packs for about ten bucks, about ten dollars a day," Hodge said.

But starting next Sunday his habits will slightly change.

"Probably 12, 14 dollars for three packs," Hodge said. "It's going to affect my pocket, I'll probably have to slow down some."

The slow down worries Pamela Lee who thinks they will most-likely have to come up with incentives for smokers to buy.

"We'll have to start advertising or something, give them some kind of lighter with cigarettes," Lee said.

40 cents of the taxes will go toward education and 2 cents will fund trauma centers.

How much money the tax will actually raise is unclear.

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