Looming MN Cigarette Tax Hike Spurs Buying Frenzy
A big jump in the state’s cigarette tax is still more than two weeks away, but it’s already having a huge impact on smokers. They’re stocking up and changing their habits.
During the noontime rush inside Super Smokedale Tobacco in Oakdale, folks like Bill Gardner are hoarding cartons upon cartons of cigarettes – buying a dozen or more cartons at a time.
But stocking up on a product priced at over $52 per carton isn’t cheap. On just this one visit, Bill will fork over $683.60 to the store cashier.
Cigarette tax could change Minnesota smokers’ behavior — but how?
The new tobacco tax signed into law last week will raise the price of cigarettes in Minnesota by $1.60 a pack, add more than $430 million to state coffers over the next two years and, public health advocates hope, prevent nearly 48,000 young people from taking up the habit.
Then there will be the unintended consequences.
Committed smokers might beat a path to North Dakota, where a pack of cigarettes will cost nearly $3 less. Or they might try to offset the increase by rolling their own cigarettes, or by switching to electronic cigarettes. Worse yet, they might turn to the black market, which is already a concern in Minnesota for some tobacco products.
Officials: Minn. Cigarette Tax Increase Could Fuel Black Market
“It’s such a profit margin that folks could come all the way from Virginia or North Carolina where the tax rate is extremely low, and bring them here and make even a higher profit,” Feinberg said.