Posted at: 09/05/2013 11:19 PM
By: John Doetkott
Cigarette Tax Pushes Smokers Over the Border
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- On July 1st, a $1.60 tax increase on cigarettes went into effect in Minnesota, with proponents arguing the higher prices would lead to more people trying to quit.
And now more than two months later, that appears to be true, but it's also caused a major loss for some Minnesota businesses as many people haven't quit buying cigarettes, they've just stopped buying them here.
Compared to this time last year, QUITPLAN Services says they've seen a 250 percent increase in smokers who are looking to quit.
But for others, they're looking for a cheaper place to buy them.
At the Mona Tobacco shop, which sits less than a mile from the Minnesota border on Highway 218, workers say many of their customers are Minnesota residents crossing the border in search of better prices.
“It adds up pretty quick,” said Jeremy Jensen, who lives in Austin. “I've been coming here too, buying packs. It's a lot cheaper, more convenient, but saving money is the big thing."
ABC 6 spoke with several other Iowa stores on Thursday who said they're seeing the same trend.
But despite the apparent exodus, the tax increase is expected to bring in more than $400 million in additional tax revenue for the state.