LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The smoke hasn’t yet settled on California’s new $2 cigarette tax.
Sticker shock set in Saturday for smokers venturing out to buy their first new pack.
CBS2’s Greg Mills found some smokers who were trying not to get lit.
“Oh definitely. Definitely. It was shocking,” said Positron Kebebow.
Over night, California’s cigarette tax went from $.87 to $2.87 a pack.
“It might make me quit because I really don’t wanna spend an extra $2 every time I buy cigarettes,” said Zack Dukes.
A few smokers thought it might be an April Fool’s joke, but this was no joke.
A pack of Newports now averages $9.06.
That’s a lot of money going up in smoke.
A pack of Marlboros might seem like a bargain at $8.60 — more than $.40 cents per smoke.
Several vendors told Mills there was a run on cigarettes last night with smokers trying to stock up on the cheaper priced cigs.
Clerka like Mohammad Hasibur told Mills he kept hearing the same thing over and over Saturday.
“Too much. I can’t afford it,” said Hasibur.
Cigarette sales were already down in the state, and this tax hopes to lower the rate even further.
“What we are targeting here is to keep, kids from ever wanting to start it,” says Dr. John Maurice, a thoracic oncologist.
Dr. Maurice treats patients battling lung cancer.
With cigarette prices rising, some looked for an alternative in vaping.
“We did have a few customers who don’t want to pay that tax so they came in here and they started vaping,” said Adrian Medina.
Basic supplies to vape run about $40-50. These items are also part of the new tax. While many believe vaping is a lot healthier than smoking cigarettes, Dr. Maurice isn’t so sure
“We don’t know all the information on vaping,” he said.
Dr. Maurice also said cigarette sales have been on a steady slide since the 1980s. From the sound of sales today, thanks to the new tax, we can expect a further dip in sales.
Said Kebebow. “Definitely. I was already considering [quitting]. So all the more so now.”