New tax on cigarettes causing smokers to quit - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

New tax on cigarettes causing smokers to quit

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Not even a month old, the new Minnesota tax on cigarettes is already having an impact on smokers.

The tax has driven up the cost of cigarettes per pack and is causing many smokers to cut down or entirely quit their habit.

The new tax came into effect July 1, adding a $1.60 tax to cigarettes per pack, bringing the total amount of tax to $2.83 cents per pack.

As a result, use of smoking hotlines, counseling services, and other resources statewide have skyrocketed.

The Nicotine Dependence Center at Mayo Clinic has seen a 25 percent increase in its number of patients from last July to this July.

Dr. Richard Hurt, the center's director, said that the increase is largely due to the tax.

"It can't just be a nickel or a dime, it has to be substantial. So $1.60 per pack is big enough to drive people to stop smoking, and that's very important. Because this is the only product you can name that if it's used as recommended by the manufacturer kills 60 percent of the customers," Dr. Hurt said.

Although this law is only a little over two weeks old, tobacco tax increases have been hailed by health officials as one of the most effective ways to get smokers to quit.

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