Smokers Fuming At April Fools Day Tax Hike

SPOKANE — Like a cruel April Fools Day joke, the federal tax on a pack of cigarettes jumped 60 cents a pack, the biggest price jump in recent history, catching a lot of smokers by surprise.

People are now spending almost $7 a pack for premium smokes and more than a third of the costs are made up of taxes. In Washington smokers are some of the most heavily taxed in the United States with the state charging $2.02 in tax per pack.

On April Fools Day morning the federal tax on those cigarettes doubled, rising to $1.01. Between state and federal taxes that’s more than $3 in taxes on each pack of smokes.

“I think it’s ridiculous, it went up too much it’s not going to help anybody,” Kenny Joi said.

The federal cigarette tax hike is designed to raise $33 Billion dollars to provide health care to children without medical insurance. While Spokane residents think generally helping kids is a good idea, they don’t know why smokers have been singled out to foot that bill.

“For the kids yes, I’ll go for that, but cigarettes should go down not go up. You should tax things other than cigarettes,” smoker Art Bidlake said.

Critics of the tax increase say the hike unfairly punishes the poor. Thirty four percent of the smoking population makes less than $12,000 a year.

“Actually it’s too expensive for me right now, it’s kind of a burden,” Nichole Walker said.

The tax increase that left smokers gasping at the checkout stand could be just the beginning.

Right now the state legislature is considering an additional $1 state tax in the hopes of getting more people to quit.

“It’s America, we have a choice if we want to smoke or not we all know that it’s harmful and if you chose to do anyway it your choice, you should just be allowed to smoke if you want to,” Kenny Joi said.

The federal tax on chewing tobacco also went up slightly but the new owners of the company that makes Skoal and Copenhagen have dropped their prices to be more competitive and so today chew is actually cheaper.