By Eva Pawelko
Smokers at Loyola University Chicago are fuming about a planned new $1 tax increase on a pack of cigarettes.
The tax hike by the Cook County Board will take effect March 1, boosting the price of a pack of cigarettes to more than $10. This is a total tax of $6.67, just 19 cents short of New York’s nation-leading tobacco tax.
The Cook County Board is raising the cigarette tax to shore up its budget. Based on records, the $1 tax increase on cigarettes in 2006 raised about $46.5 million for Cook County.
Loyola students who smoke are upset with the tax increase, while non-smokers hope it will be an incentive for students who smoke, to quit.
Elena Grigoriou, a 23-year-old Loyola senior majoring in chemistry, said the tax hike might prompt her to quit smoking.
“Due to the tax increase in cigarette taxes of last year, I have contemplated on quitting. I found it harder than I thought, but with another tax increase, this will drastically affect my smoking habits. Being a student, money is an issue; the average price of one pack of cigarettes is $10 and the more Cook County increases the tax, the more likely I am to quit,” Grigoriou said.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, shared a piece of advice to smokers: “They should quit.”
Saim Sal, a 23-year-old Loyola senior majoring in marketing, does not agree that this tax increase will cause smokers to quit.
“I have been smoking for many years now, and I used to pay just $3.50 four years ago. This tax jump is unreasonable, considering the fact that a pack of cigarettes is worth just $4, and the rest is just tax. This is frustrating, but because I am already addicted, I will continue to smoke and many people will do the same,” Sal said.
The $1 dollar tax increase may discourage non-smokers from smoking.
Juleny Santacruz, a 20-year-old Loyola sophomore majoring in criminal justice, believes that people who do not smoke, are not likely to start.
“I don’t think non-smokers will begin because it’s too expensive and people are mostly focusing on saving money in this economy.” Santacruz said. “It also doesn’t benefit them in any way, so starting an expensive habit like that will do them no good.”