New Cigarette Tax Hits Hard

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- Cigarettes in Tennessee will now cost you 42 cents more per pack

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford talked to a Knoxville's tobacconist who has his own concerns over the new spike.

"I actually have to change the cost and the retail number, every bar code," said Smokin' Joe's owner Mike Hicks.

Hicks has to increase the price of about 900 cigarettes in his store computer.

"It will take me probably six or seven hours throughout the course of today to make all these changes in my system," Hicks said.
"Uncle Bredesen decided he needed more money, so the tax, of course, went up."

And at 42 cents more per pack the new tax is Something Hicks is confused about.

"If it would've been a 20 cent increase, that would've been something manageable, something people could accept," Hicks said, "but 42 cents at one time, it just doesn't make sense."

Hicks says his shelves are unusually bare right now from customers stocking up before the hike.

Now the future of Smokin Joe's cigarette sales is up in the air.

"You always worry when something like this, as drastic of an increase happens, because you really just don't know what it's going to be like the next few months," Hicks said.

The owner is worried about cigarette sales from here on out, but fortunately Smokin' Joe's thousands of cigars were spared.

"If they were to tax the cigars, it would probably hurt the business in this state drastically," Hicks said.

But for now, the owner has heard nothing but complaints from customers.

"There will be some folks that will quit and stick to it, which obviously will hurt the business," Hicks said. "There will be a lot of people that will drop down to something that's lower cost."

He hopes everyone remembers our state leaders who made this tax hike possible...

"I just hope people don't forget when it comes time to vote again, because I know I won't."

Hicks says he expects business to be very slow this month, but he's hoping it will start to pick back up in August.

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