New Cigarette Tax Frustrates Local Businesses
A new $1 state cigarette tax designed to raise almost $900 million to offset the price of health care for tobacco related illnesses has got some Florida business owners fuming.
The new tax comes only two months after a $0.60 federal increase in April and a $0.40 increase by major tobacco companies at the beginning of this year.
Joe Fabozi, who manages the Kwik King on Maricamp Road, says he's seen his total business drop around 45 percent. "We're stuck here, we're trying to think of ways to make the number come up and it's just not working," Fabozi said, "The cigarettes are killing us."
Cigarette sales have dropped 28 percent statewide from last year, but Fabozi says that doesn't necessarily mean smokers are kicking the habit. He said smokers were buying cigarettes from the internet or even other states to get a cheaper price.
Some of them, he said, are switching to cheaper cigarettes or even cigars, which haven't seen a tax increase.
Andy Patel, owner of Smokers Outlit and Grocery on Maricamp Road, says 60 percent of what he sells are cigarettes. "It's really, really hard," Patel said, "If cigarettes don't sell, other things don't sell either." Patel said lottery sales were also down.
All these things have Patel considering taking his business out of state before it gets completely snuffed out...by taxes.
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