New Minn. Tobacco Sales Tax Takes Effect Monday

By KBJR News 1

June 29, 2013 Updated Jun 29, 2013 at 10:44 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The big Minnesota cigarette tax takes effect on Monday and that means many will be paying more money for a pack of cigarettes.

For some smoke shops and smokers in Duluth, Monday's cigarette tax hike is as welcomed as finding an empty pack, with many customers at Cigs4Less stocking up before prices go up.

"That's why I stopped here today and we'll be stopping here tomorrow," said customer, Leana Schraufnagel.

Mike Kasapidis, manager at Cigs4Less in West Duluth says customers are not too happy with the new tax bump.

"People are not liking the tax, it's the biggest tax increase we've seen in Minnesota," said Cigs4Less manager, Mike Kasapidis.

The new tobacco tax raises the states per-pack tax on cigarettes to $2.83 while raising the average price-per-pack to more than $7.50.

It's all an effort to balance the state budget deficit and aims to get people to kick the habit.

"People say that they are going to but it's not as easy as it sounds, it's really hard to kick the habit of smoking," said Kasapidas.

Kasapidas says the price increase is prompting some customers to switch to alternative electronic cigarettes.

"A lot of people have been switching over because it is a lot cheaper and it's a lot healthier on your lungs than actual cigarettes," Kasapidas said.

But some customers aren't sold with the alternative cigarettes even if it means saving a few bucks.

"I've tried them and it makes you want to smoke more because you're not getting that regular feeling off of them," said Schraufnagel.

And whether customers switch to the alternatives or stick to their brand, the bottom line, they'll be paying more for at least the next two years.

When the new cigarette tax goes into effect on Monday, Minnesota will have the sixth highest tax on tobacco in the country.

Jeremy Brickley