Looming Minn. cigarette tax sparks buying frenzy

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (AP) — A looming tax hike on cigarettes has led to booming business at tobacco shops across Minnesota.

The cigarette tax jumps $1.60 per pack in three weeks, and a Minnesota Public Radio report (http://bit.ly/1bhUo70 ) says customers are preparing by stocking up on dozens of cartons.

Anan Barbarawi runs Maplewood Tobacco in Maplewood. He says some customers are buying 10 to 20 cartons, and they seem to know to the dollar how much they’re saving. But Barbarawi worries that business will suffer when cigarettes go up to $2.83 a pack.

Some fear that customers will cross into Iowa or the Dakotas, where cigarette taxes are lower. That would hurt Minnesota sales. But Minnesota Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans says he’s confident the state will hit its tobacco tax-revenue projections.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mpr.org

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