New CA Cigarette Tax Takes Effect
BY ALFREDO GUZMAN
The new cigarette tax took effect April 1, 2017. How has this new tax affected smokers like Cindy Fernandez of Holtville? We talked to her not long after the tax went into effect. California voters approved the tax with Proposition 56 on Nov. 8, 2016.
“I used to be able to get the off brand packs for a little over five dollars. The American Legend, now they’re (American Legend Brand Cigarettes) almost eight dollars! I prefer the Marlboro Reds. They’re better, but those have gotten so expensive; almost ten dollars a pack! I only get them sometimes. With the tax I’ve been getting cigarettes (in general) less and less. It’s too expensive.”
Fernandez is a long time smoker in her mid fifties. Because of the price increase she’s been looking for alternative means to acquire cigarettes and tobacco.
“I’ve started smoking the Swisher Sweets (cigarillos that come two to a pack), they’re ninety nine cents a pack. But it’s not the same. I have gone to the Baja Duty Free in Calexico but the line at the border coming back makes it a hassle. When I’ve done it before they only let you take one carton (of cigarettes) at a time. I don’t know it you can cross more cartons it might just depend on the officer letting you cross. I don’t know.” Fernandez acknowledged the negative health impact cigarettes have.
“I know that’s why they passed the law. It’s a vice tax. All the money cigarettes cost with the health care the state probably spends on people with health problems because of cigarettes. But, it’s hard to stop,” said Fernandez.
According to the Americans for Nonsmokers website, Proposition 56 won 63 percent of the vote. The proposition hopes to dissuade young people from starting smoking and funding from tax revenue from the proposition will go to youth tobacco prevention programs.
Additionally, potentially billions in health care costs will be prevented as fewer people take up smoking.