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Smokers, Retailers React Negatively To Proposed Cigarette Tax

Smokers and businesses have reacted negatively to Governor John Kasich's proposal to raise taxes on tobacco products to help pay for an income tax cut. Under Governor Kasich’s proposal, per-pack cigarette taxes would jump by 60 cents to $1.85. That worries smoker Susie Matthews. She believes that the burden would fall unfairly on lower income Ohioans. “That makes everybody struggle. I don’t think that’s right. We struggle enough,â€? Matthews said. The proposed tax also worries small business owner Teriq Chaudhry. Chaudhry, who owns and operates Smoke Plus 5 on the Columbus west side, says he thinks smokers will either quit or buy their cigarettes elsewhere. “People will just go across the border, Kentucky, West Virginia, wherever the cigarettes are cheaper and bring tobacco back over here. And stores like us – small businesses – it will have a huge impact,â€? Chaudhry says. A coalition of retail merchants and grocers figures the tax increase could amount to more than $100 million in lost profits. Meanwhile, the Ohio chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics backs the tax increase. Other anti-smoking organizations have called for a $1.50-per-pack hike.