Cigarette Tax and ‘No Smoking Bill’: East Tennesseans Weigh In

By: Allison Hunt
By: Allison Hunt

Knoxville (WVLT) - You could pay 42 cents more a pack to light up, if a cigarette tax increase passes the Tennessee House.

The House already has passed a bill to ban most smoking indoors. Governor Bredesen says he'll sign it. So how do smokers feel about both?

Volunteer TV’s Allison Hunt spoke with some smokers who say they'll pay the price.

Most smokers we talked to say, they'll quit when they want, not when a tax, or a ban is put on their habit, even if their habit's unhealthy.

"I'll probably still smoke, that's it, I mean I'm a smoker, I'm not ready to give it up yet,” Debra Tate has been smoking for more than 20 years. She says even an increase that could more than triple Tennessee's cigarette tax will not get her to quit. "I smoke two packs a day, three dollars a pack, so six dollars a day, I don't even think about it, it's just in my budget."

But organizations dedicated to raising awareness on the dangers of smoking say the tax increase could be positive.

"It could become a financial burden for someone to purchase cigarettes at that point and be forced or more encouraged to do something about their own health,” Johnnita Tyler-Tillery, from American Heart Association.

And the health of others. The American Heart Association says Tennessee’s bill that bans most indoor smoking is a step toward healthier lifestyles for everyone.

"Second hand smoke is very detrimental to the health of anyone who is exposed to it and it takes that exposure away from a person in the workplace who otherwise may not have any control over the situation,” says Tyler-Tillery.

Some people say they look forward to a smoke-free environment.

(Deborah Nelson) "It's a smokers problem and I think that the system is being fair about it,” says Deborah Nelson.

But many smokers say it's 'unfair' and they don't like to be singled out for lighting up.

"There are a lot of non-smokers that could be taxed on things too, so just because I want to smoke doesn't mean I should pay for other programs that I don't benefit from,” says Mike Wirick.

So what will they do?

"What everybody else does, buck up and smoke anyway,” Wirick says.

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  • by Bob Location: Knoxville on Jun 10, 2007 at 04:20 PM
    The increase in the "sin tax" might be justified, if you look at the cost smoking increases the cost of social health programs. I own a chain of local business in Knoxville. I should decide if you smoke or not in my business, not the government. Sorry about that to the non-smoker, but if I make the decision to allow smoking, you can always go somewhere else that makes the decision to not allow smoking on their property. This is just another example of the government micro managing business.
  • by Garry Location: Maryville on Jun 10, 2007 at 05:39 AM
    How about 42c per can of beer, or $4.20 per bottle of liquor? Makes it fair. Some of us smoke, some of us drink...A tax on one segment of our citizenship with a "habit" is not at all fair...
  • by gary Location: knox county on Jun 8, 2007 at 11:31 AM
    Will people quit smoking NO BUT OVER HALF THE MONEY IS going to be used to teach the ILLEGAL MEXICANS ENGLISH They already know english better than u think they just speak spanish so we dont understand what they say LET THEM PAY TO LEARN we give them enough now cant believe our state legislators tried to hid where the money was going til they about had it passed but TN what more can u say
  • by Garry Location: East Tenn on Jun 8, 2007 at 07:29 AM
    The same amount should be added to beer and alcohol.
  • by Darryl Location: Knoxville on Jun 7, 2007 at 11:54 AM
    The no smoking bill is one of the best things that the state has done and is long over due.I support peoples right to smoke if they so chosse but I have made the choice not to smoke and should not be forced to breathe in their smoke in restrants and other public places. I also think the tax increase is a good thing and I hope that it inspires several people to stop smoking. People now know without a doubt the harm smoking does to their health but I still see young people smoking everyday. If this tax increase results in some people quitting smoking and other not starting then it is worth it . If it were up to me I would add at least another 42 cent increase next year.
  • by Melinda Limburg Location: Lenoir City on Jun 6, 2007 at 05:36 PM
    I do not think this tax is a fair tax because it is going to be used for the "so called children" or Mexicans coming into our area to educate them. I could say more but the whole tax from the gov. is for the purpose of supporting Mexicans!!!!
  • by John Location: Sevierville on Jun 5, 2007 at 10:38 AM
    Smoke, smoke, smoke. Prove Darwin was right!
  • by kim Location: home on Jun 4, 2007 at 09:55 PM
    smokers/non smokers/. Why not tax alcohol?And what about the gas prices? Don't we have enough issues at this time ? It costs me$50.00 a week to drive back and forth to work. Only thing i can say is Fred Thompson for president!!!!!
  • by Betty Location: Home on Jun 2, 2007 at 11:21 AM
    I am sorry that Tennessee isn't at least in the middle of the pack on taxing tobacco products. I am not a smoker, but I would be willing to pay the same taxes as persons in other states for non-essential goods that I choose to purchase. The smoking ban has been a long time coming. Now non-smokers can sit in any restaurant without smelling a cigerette and inhaling the potentially deadly fumes. We have been supporting restaurants that thought enough of their customers to go non-smoking. Now WE, the non-smokers, have a choice!
  • by steve Location: oneida on Jun 2, 2007 at 02:16 AM
    it's simple! I'll drive to Kentucky and give them my business! Tennessee is only boosting Kentuckys tobacco sales. No! i won't quit until (( I )) decide! not when Bredesen decides! Hope you need my vote come next election Bredesen to keep you in office, you'll be gone!
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