Smokers pay more for cigarettes - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Smokers pay more for cigarettes

Gene Park Gene Park

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

KAPOLEI (KHNL) - Starting Wednesday, smokers now have to pay 60 cents more for a pack of cigarettes.

The new federal tobacco tax, will in part, go to health insurance programs for uninsured kids. The federal tax on cigarettes is now a buck per pack. That's up almost 40 cents.

Some smokers we spoke to say they'll continue to light it up, while others tell us it's time to quit.

For 12 years, this is what Gene Park does throughout his day. It all started in his teenage years in Guam.

"All of the men in my family smoked, my father, my grandfather, my uncles, it was a way of bonding for them and smoking for me, there's a lot of personal attachment to it because I was able to bond with my family that way," Park said.

But that will end soon. In fact, he's down to his last pack and only a couple of cigarettes are left in there.

"It'll be tough to wake up in the morning and go to work without my morning cigarette," he said. "Before the tax increase, I estimated that I spent about $2,400 a year on cigarettes and that's not including the lighters I buy, so I'll look at this as a $2,400 raise."

A much needed raise, especially since he was recently laid off from work. The tax may actually benefit those who don't light it up.

But not everyone is giving up the habit. In fact, Brian Redondo just started smoking. He says it's a great stress reliever and despite the higher cost, he's not giving it up.

"I'm not ready to quit yet and I guess it's going to good use," he said. "I'm willing to pay the extra 60 cents."

Tobacco taxes may also rise here in Hawaii. The state has a house-passed bill in the works. It would increase tobacco taxes on July first by 40 cents a pack.

"It does feel like the government does kind of pick on smokers sometimes, especially these hard times, it's really hard to quit, but then again you can look at it another way, say it's hard times right now, so we should start cutting out things we don't really need," Park said.

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