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Lifestyle Price

Federal tax for cigarettes goes up to fund child health initiative.

By Melissa Kelsey

Smoking is a tough habit to break, but those who want to quit now have an added financial incentive. Last Wednesday, federal taxes on tobacco rose by 62 cents per pack, increasing the total federal tax for one pack of cigarettes from 39 cents to $1.01. The tax hike came after President Obama signed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program bill last February to raise the tax and use revenue to fund healthcare coverage for an estimated 4 million uninsured American children.

Indirectly, the bill may improve adult health as well.

“A lot of people have told me they are going to quit,” said Judy Egusa, a store manager at Friendly Market. “However, others are rolling their own cigarettes because it is cheaper.”

As an additional blow to local smokers, a bill to raise the Hawaii state tobacco tax from $2.00 per pack to $2.40 per pack was kept alive by Hawaii state lawmakers last week. If the bill goes into effect, the total tax for one pack of cigarettes in Hawaii will be $3.41 per pack, federal and state taxes combined.

“An average pack of cigarettes at our store used to cost anywhere from $4.00-$6.00, but just last week the average cost went up to $6.00-$8.00,” said Egusa. “If you really want to, better start quitting,” she said.

Smoking is responsible for one in five deaths in the United States, and is the country’s leading cause of preventable death, according to the American Lung Association.

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