We've been buying cigarettes in Wisconsin since the last round of Minnesota tax increases went into effect because they were a few cents cheaper there. Not anymore.
I went to Wal-Mart in St. Croix Falls today for smokes and they were $6.28 a pack! It's the first time I can ever recall going to the customer service counter to return cigarettes.
According to the receipt, at $6.28 I was actually saving 45 cents a pack from retail. I saved a lot more than that by buying in Minnesota, where I can now get almost three packs for the price of two in Wisconsin. I still don't know how a one dollar tax hike resulted in an almost two dollar price increase, but I don't care. It's the beauty of living on a border. Wisconsin can shove it.
I learned when I was working for a Wisconsin paper there is no bigger whore to the "stop smoking" lobby than Wisconsin. In Polk County, they had a tax-payer funded smoking cessation officer. In fact, TOBIS isn't even shy about it, they are in it for the social engineering and, of course, the money:
On January 1, 2008 Wisconsin's cigarette tax will increase $1.00 to become $1.77. The $1.00 increase will mean:
65,800 fewer future youth smokers
An overall reduction in youth smoking of 16.4%
33,300 current adult smokers will quit
9,100 fewer smoking-affected births
Overall long-term health savings of approximately $1.4 billion
Additional state cigarette tax revenue of $227.5 million a year
Always lead with "The Children," that's their motto. Beyond that, apparently the $306 million in excise taxes (2006), and the almost a billion in settlement dollars the state received (up to 2006) isn't enough. The state needs another $227 million annually, the majority of which will come from its poorer citizens.
Thinking about crossing the river to buy smokes in Minnesota? The fascists even thought of you:
...crossing the border or buying online doesn't mean you can avoid paying the higher tax. Meredith Helgerson with the state Department of Revenue says any tobacco product bought across state lines and brought into Wisconsin must have any tax difference paid on it. Residents are responsible for paying the tax difference on products bought in states with a lower tax. In the case of online sales where no taxes paid at the time of purchase, the buyer is responsible for paying the taxes to the state.
Unfairly taxing the poor is just fine in Wisconsin, as long as it's "for their own good." Why don't they just raise the price to $50 a pack and get 100 percent of people to quit smoking? That, at least would be honest.
Because, as much as they despise smoking, they despise going without money more, and Wisconsin is the single largest cigarette profiteer in the state. They need enough people to keep smoking to keep the bucks rolling in.
Wisconsin wants you to know it despises smoking, and will continue to do so, even as it rolls around naked in the profits.