Cigarette Tax Increase Expected To Make Big Impact On Smokers, State

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 7:53 pm

By: News On 6

Cigarette prices are going up in Oklahoma after Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill Thursday, raising the cost of every pack. 

Experts hope the higher price will save lives. 

In three months, your favorite pack of cigarettes will cost you an extra $1.50, and it's the largest tax increase on cigarettes in Oklahoma history.

Billie Owens is a lung cancer survivor. 

Five years after beating the disease, she hasn't been able to stop smoking.

"I wish I could. But I've tried numerous times and when I get stressed, then I pick up the cigarette," Owens said. 

E-cigarettes, loose tobacco and cigars aren't included.

"It is gonna hit me very hard," Owens said. 

But, she's not sure it's a big enough hike to force her to stop.

"I honestly don't know. I'm 72 years old and I've been smoking since I was 12," Owens said. 

American Cancer Society Research shows the 2004 state tax hike resulted in a decrease in smokers.

Bill supporters hope this hike has the same impact or better.

"When a person goes to buy a pack of cigarettes they are going to feel it," said Paula Warlick with the American Cancer Society.  

Owens said she typically buys 10 packs a week. 

Each pack costs $3.83, so currently, she spends about $38 each week. 

With the tax increase, she'll pay $53.

"Tobacco itself in whatever shape or form a person chooses to use it is highly addictive," Warlick said. 

American Cancer Society's Paula Warlick said once the tax hike is implemented, the high costs will force 30,000 current smokers to stop and 28,000 kids will never start smoking. 

Warlick said that's a huge win because 90 percent of all smokers first lit up at a young age.

"Kids that'll never start that is a major victory for the American Cancer Society," she said. 

For the people who still opt to smoke, the tax will generate about $180 million.

The tax increase goes into effect in 90 days. 


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