New year brings new city tobacco tax

Cigarettes tax ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Smokers in Anchorage can expect to shell out 75 cents more for a pack of cigarettes in 2011. Money from the tobacco tax, which is also an effort to cut down on the number of smokers, will be filtered back into the community.

Anchorage Assembly Chair Dick Traini says the tax is expected to raise over $5 million a year. That money will go toward offsetting property taxes and into the Anchorage Fire Department’s budget, as well as that of the Anchorage Police Department’s 2011 police academy — but Traini says that’s not its true purpose.

“I would much rather see the income stream go down to nothing,” Traini said. “That means the tobacco, the people smoking, dwindle down to nothing too, so we have a lot of people that are going to live a lot longer.”

But smoke-shop workers are skeptical that the added cost will force anyone to quit. Cheap Smokes employee Lindsay Wassillie says while many customers claim kicking the habit will be a New Year’s resolution, she doubts it will stick.

“I think a lot of people are going to be saying they are going to quit — to be honest, I’m expecting to see them back,” Wassillie said. “Quitting smoking is just hard.”

The tobacco tax passed the Assembly on an 8-3 vote, and went into effect Saturday. Traini says he expects it to be the Assembly’s last tax increase on tobacco.


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