On April 3, the United States congress passed a bill that raised the federal tobacco tax from 39 cents to $1.01. The tax increase has been faced with criticism throughout North Carolina, and Western Carolina University is not exempt.
The tax was set in motion as a means to pay for universal health care. The bill is historic as the largest federal tax increase in history, and has nationwide smokers in an uproar. When added to North Carolina’s tax (35 cents), the new federal tax requires consumers to pay an extra $1.36 in addition to the carton price.
This is especially important when North Carolina is considering raising its own tax.
The increase has met a mixture of reactions from students.
“I’m not a big fan of tobacco, but I’m also not a fan of government control,” says Eric Smith, WCU student. “To me this is the sort of thing that leads to taxing sodas, and that’s dangerous.”
To Smith, the bright side is that the increase “might discourage people from starting.”
Tom Hall, a student and smoker, agrees about government control. He says that the increase is a “horrible thing…whenever the economy is rough they tax everyday Americans.”
Smith added “I think it’s hypocritical of Bev Purdue to allow this to pass, because so much of North Carolina’s economy is based on tobacco.”
Student Adam Chinery has a more positive outlook.
“It’s fine with me,” he said. “Obviously it’s going to disappoint those who smoke.”
When asked if he thinks the tax will make people quit, Chinery is more pessimistic. “[The tax] might make it easier, but it really depends on that person making the choice.”