Smokers and non-smokers differ on proposed tax hike

Smokers and non-smokers differ on proposed tax hike

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President Obama is calling for the federal hike in cigarette taxes, it would be an increase of 94 cents on a pack. President Obama is calling for the federal hike in cigarette taxes, it would be an increase of 94 cents on a pack.

By MONA NAIR
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – There's a debate going on between smokers and non-smokers. Should the price of a pack of cigarettes be raised, so the money can go towards early childhood education programs. President Obama is calling for the federal hike in cigarette taxes, it would be an increase of 94 cents on a pack.

Smokers say paying nearly a dollar more for a pack is quite a price hike. Chain smokers like Kelley Osborn say for her, that would mean a lifestyle change.

"It would be extremely hard for me. I am low income, so I'd have to spend less on food and clothing," she explained.

The proposal hopes to raise $78-billion for early childhood education, as well as promote good health by reducing smoking rates.

Kelley says it would not make her quit.

Local businesses like Smokin' Joe's say it would make people quit. When cigarette prices rose in 2009 for example, sales dropped by 10%.

So another hike would mean another hit to their revenue.

"You lose business, because if you raise taxes, you have less people smoking. That's less money," said Devin Macklin, who works at the store.

For parents like Pat Watson, who was out with his daughter on Market Square, more money for early childhood education, is only a good thing.

"Given that it's a bad habit to start with, it's almost like you're taking money from an evil and giving to something good," Watson said.

But Kelley believes the money for the kids, should not be coming out of her pocket.

"There are other things worth cutting to put towards that," she said.

There is a pretty significant income disparity between smokers and non-smokers, the median income for a smoker was $27,700, compared to $45,761 for non-smokers.

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