News 12 at 6 o'clock, January 8, 2008
COLUMBIA, S.C. --- It's back to the grind for South Carolina lawmakers. Day 1 of a packed agenda for the new year. One of those items is increasing the cigarette tax. News 12 is on your side with what that could potentially mean for you -- smoker or not.
They're back and ready to make one smoker not too happy by increasing the tax price per pack by 30 cents.
"I think it's high enough as it is now. I want to know where this money is going," says Evan Caopsy, a smoker.
Governor Mark Sanford wants to use the extra money to reduce income taxes. Other lawmakers say they money should go to health care.
Another Brown smokes up to 2 packs a day. That's about 5 dollars a day and just over 1,800 dollars a year.
"I can't see myself paying much more than that," says Brown.
If the proposed law passes in South Carolina, every time you pull out a cigarette and light it up, it's only a penny and half per cigarette. But, if you smoke a pack a day, times that by everyday of the year, that's more than 100 dollars extra you're going to end up spending.
The non-smokers we talked to were unsure of where they want the money to go. But both smokers agree, their habit shouldn't be the only one to see a tax increase.
"People who don't smoke, they may drink or something else, they should raise other stuff," says Evan.
"You can't tax people for certain things they do become every body's got their bad habits. Smoking, drinking or whatever and I think it's crazy," says Anthony.
And if it boils down to an extra 30 cents for a pack, shelves may be slightly overstocked.
"As soon as they go up, I think I'll have to quit all together. I don't want to but I think I'm gonna have to," says Anthony.
News 12 asking, "If they go up, is it going to be any motivation to stop smoking even more?
Evan answering, "Yeah, quite a bit!"
Compared to other surrounding states, South Carolina has the lowest cigarette tax at 7 cents per pack. In Georgia, it's 37 cents. And in North Carolina, it's 35 cents per pack.