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Where there's smoke, there's $$: steep new cigarette tax begins Monday

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No butts about it, Minnesota's higher cigarette tax has gotten the attention of smokers, tobacco retailers and state lawmakers.

KSTP reports that the state's tax-per-pack will more than double when it begins on Monday, going from $1.23 to $2.83. That will raise the average price-per-pack to more than $7.50. The price for a typical carton of cigarettes will go from $50 to $69.

The new tax is projected to bring the state more than $400 million every two years, but it could be lower if the hike makes smokers kick their nicotine habit.

The Duluth News Tribune reports the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Cancer Society estimate the pricier packs will prevent 47,000 kids from starting to smoke and help 36,600 current smokers quit.

The paper talked to smoker Jody Meyers, 39, who said she plans to give up her cigarettes on Monday because of the cost.

“I’ve been wanting to quit for years but I haven’t been able to, and it’s like I’m going to be quitting cold turkey now,” Meyers said. “And it’s going to be really hard, but I’m going to give it a shot.”

The Northland News Center reports that many customers are stopping at convenience stores and smoke shops to stock up before the hike.

"That's why I stopped here today," said customer Leana Schraufnagel.

When the new cigarette tax goes into effect, Minnesota will have the nation's sixth highest tax on tobacco.

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