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ND sells more smokes after cigarette tax hits Minnesota

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It appears Minnesota smokers who live near North Dakota are crossing the border to save money on their nicotine habit.

Forum Communications cites data from the North Dakota Tax Commissioner’s Office that shows a whopping jump in the number of cigarettes sold by distributors to retailers. The statistics show a 12 percent hike in August and a 5.5 percent increase in September of this year, compared to the same time period in 2012.

The Minnesota Legislature raised the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1.60 on July 1. The state’s tax is now $2.83, compared to North Dakota’s 44 cents per pack.

An earlier report from the Minnesota Revenue Department found that Minnesota cigarette sales fell 35 percent in July compared to July 2012. Tobacco stamp sales for August picked up a bit, but were still down 12 percent compared to August 2012. At the same time, MPR reported cigarette sales taxes went up by more than 56 percent for July and August compared to the two-month period in the previous year

Jeanne Prom, executive director of North Dakota's Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy said the center hopes to help persuade the North Dakota Legislature to raise the tax in 2015. It hasn't been increased since 1993.

“One of the best ways to prevent kids from ever starting to use tobacco products is to make them less accessible,” Prom said. “And one of the best ways to make them less accessible is the price.”

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