Smokers fume over cigarette tax idea

A legislative push to raise the state tax on cigarettes was as unwelcome to smokers in Streeterville — and even some nonsmokers — as Thursday’s chilly lake breeze.

The lingering effects of the recession and palpable frustration about rising taxes have smokers unified against a proposal to raise the state cigarette tax from 98 cents to $1.98 per pack by the end of next year.”You’re kidding me,” Ann Boger said in between puffs outside a high-rise. Saying she’s never supported “sin taxes,” Boger said tax-happy politicians could face repercussions.

“It (ticks) me off … and it (ticks) voters off. They’re trying to legislate personal choice,” she said.

Evelyn Fry wasn’t convinced elected officials had done enough cost-cutting, adding that taxing items like gas and discount cigarettes was a too-familiar cash cow.

“They have to be better stewards of their money,” Fry said. “(Raising) taxes on every little item isn’t going to solve the source of these problems. Luxury taxes never work.”

Traveling businessman Dave Dillon said he hasn’t bought a pack of cigarettes in Cook County in years and will likely make trips to Indiana more routinely.

“They know they can tax cigarettes, but all they’re doing is causing people to do exactly what I do,” he said. “It’s only going to increase sales in Indiana and Wisconsin, whichever you live closer to.”

Even nonsmoker June Porter opposed an increase. “Although it doesn’t affect me, it does seem unfair to smokers,” Porter said.

Nonsmoker Nicholas Moore supports the tax increase because he believes that it deters smoking. “Smoking is bad for a lot of reasons, especially the cancer (it causes) and you have to think of others around you and yourself,” he said.


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