Apr 062009
 
Authors: Erin Smith

Amid the hard-hitting economic recession, many CSU students say they support a recent federal tax increase on tobacco products, but those who smoke add that they aren’t happy to be paying more for cigarettes.

The 62-cent tax increase went into effect last Wednesday, and brings the total federal tax on one pack of cigarettes to $1.01, the largest federal increase ever.

“I know they’re bad for me, so I don’t mind the disincentive,” said Greg Diamond, an employee for Schrader’s Country Store, a gas station across from CSU campus on College Avenue and Locust Street.

Cigarettes have gone up to around $5 a pack for some brands at Schrader’s.

Diamond said that his customers have not been taking the increase well, but hasn’t seen a decrease in tobacco customers.

“They hate it, but sales are the same.” Diamond said.

And some students are saying the same thing.

“I like them, so I’ll pay the price,” said William Overmann, a junior political science major. Overmann said he smoked for a year and quit, and now smokes occasionally.

The tax increase will help fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a state and federal partnership that provides health coverage to families and children who are uninsured.

“(Smoking is) a very bad choice, and to tax it is going to give you two benefits: less smokers and more income.” said Benjamin Walker, a junior political science major.

Alex Samole, a junior natural resource, recreation and tourism major, said that the tax encourages people to quit or never start in the first place.

“We’ve been trying harder to cut back now,” she said of herself and some friends since the tax increase.

“Almost everyone mentions the cost of smoking when trying to quit,” said Norma Pomerleau, a smoking cessation counselor for the Health District of Northern Colorado, which boasts a 20 to 30 percent success rate.

Pomerleau said it’s still hard to tell if she has experienced an increase in people trying to quit, but expects the next few weeks to be telling.

“Money is an issue,” Pomerleau said. “Some of my clients don’t have money for food.”

Samole said some students are relying on cost saving techniques such as bumming cigarettes or lobbying for discounts from vendors.

“Some places offer you a dollar off for buying two packs,” she said.

However, Amanda Mozer, a program assistant for Tobacco Free Larimer County, said that “increasing taxes is a proven strategy to reduce tobacco consumption,” adding that a 10 percent increase in tax can reduce youth consumption by four percent.

Mozer said that ages 18 to 24 are the youngest group tobacco companies can legally market their products to and also the group with the highest tobacco use rate.

“It’s important for students to be aware of how they are marketed to by tobacco companies,” Mozer said.

Staff writer Erin Smith can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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