East Texas Smokers Feeling Cigarette Tax Increase - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/2/07-Tyler

East Texas Smokers Feeling Cigarette Tax Increase

House Bill 5, which increases the tax on cigarettes and other products like chewing tobacco is now in its second day. Smokers are finding they have to pay $1.00 more than usual for a pack of cigarettes, and about $10.00 more per carton.  It's too much for many East Texans.

The shelves at Tobacco Junction in Tyler were bare Tuesday afternoon, as many smokers stocked up before this week's tax increase.   Still, many found out today just how much more they will have to pay to smoke.

"A dollar and probably 80 some cents more," said Milton of Tyler. 

"Probably an extra 20 bucks a week for me," said Robby Deiman of Tyler.  It's a price smokers say is forcing them to decide if smoking is really worth it.

"A lot of us is going to quite," said Milton. "I'm one of them. I think this is the last pack I believe." Family physician Doctor Bryan Lowery says the tax increase has encouraged many of his patients to ask about medications to help them quite smoking.

"It's actually cheaper to take medication for three months than smoke a pack of cigarettes," said Dr. Bryan Lowery of Trinity Clinic. "I think everybody wants to quite, but nicotine is the most addictive drug we have on our planet, so it's going to take some help."

One option is a new medication called Chantix. Doctors say it fights the desire for nicotine, without using nicotine. They say the medications targets the receptors in the brain that are stimulated by nicotine.  

"The chantix stays on these receptors and there is a small level of stimulation there, not as potent as the nicotine does, but what it does is block the nicotine from hitting those receptors, so a person has less desire to smoke and doesn't get the benefit of the feelings they get from nicotine when they do smoke a cigarette," said Doctor Ken Haygood, Family Physician.  Doctors say more than 40 percent of their patients have quit smoking using Chantix. Smokers take the drug anywhere from three to six months, and it costs about $90.00 dollars month.

Quiting, however, is not an option for everyone. Tobacco Junction says smokers are finding other ways to save money.

"We have roll your own," said Savannah McQuire, Tobacco Junction Employee.  "You can actually roll for little under 10 dollars." Despite the tax increase, Tobacco Junction says people are still buying cigarettes, and will until they choose to quite. The tax increase does not apply to cigars, only to cigarettes and other tobacco products like chewing tobacco and snuff. The state expects around 700 million dollars from the tax increase, which will go towards property tax relief.  

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com

 

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