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ALBERT LEA, MN – While it might help to generate some dollars for the state, Minnesota smokers say they still feel targeted.
A new tobacco tax is increasing the price per pack by $1.60 starting on Monday.
Lawmakers say it’s part of a state budget fix but it’s also being considered by public health experts as a way to discourage smoking.
For area smokers, it’s not something they say they’re taking lightly.
“It’s a way of forcing people to quit smoking cigarettes. You’re forced to cause you can’t afford to and when your poor, you can’t afford that. Tobacco is a habit, it’s a routine. It’s not necessarily what’s in it, but it’s a routine, you get used to that,” said Kevin Keesling of Albert Lea.
The extra charge brings the total tax to $2.83 per pack, the sixth highest tax rate in the nation.
Those close to the border say it’s only giving them more reason to cross into Iowa and buy their cigarettes where they’re much cheaper.
“I smoke cigarettes. Do what you got to do, but Iowa is 10 miles away, they’re not raising their taxes. So you’re not really raising anything here, cause these people here are gonna go across that border and get their cigarettes,” said James Rutherford of Albert Lea.
Floor tax proceeds will go to helping pay off the debt on the new Minnesota Vikings Stadium, which also sparks a topic for debate.
While some smokers disagree with the tax hike all together, others say they wouldn’t have much of a problem with it if it benefited a more worthy cause.