By: James Garrity
It’s been almost two weeks since cigarettes were tagged with an additional $1.00 tax in Pennsylvania, and in that time, some Ohio stores have seen a bump in sales.
5 Point Country Convenience is located right across the Ohio border, not far from Sharpsville. Dee Zreliak works there, and tells KDKA’s James Garrity they’re struggling to keep the shelves stocked with cartons and packs of cigarettes.
“We really can’t keep up with them,” she says. “We’ve been trying to double our orders, but it seems like we’re still out of things a day or two after.”
However, this practice could be in violation of specific rules for crossing state lines with tobacco.
According to the website for the state Department of Revenue, Pennsylvanians are allowed to have up to one carton of cigarettes without PA cigarette tax stamps. However, they’re then obligated to pay Pennsylvania taxes on the cigarettes. If a person doesn’t pay those taxes, they could face a summary, misdemeanor, or felony offense, depending on the quantity.
But that isn’t stopping some smokers, who are either disregarding the law or are unaware of it.
“We’ve had people call and ask about different prices,” says Ruth Kusky, manager of Cigarettes-4-Less in Struthers, near Youngstown. “One lady even wanted to order 10 cartons of cigarettes for the month.”
There was some speculation that the new tax might give some smokers the impetus to give up the habit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in the Pittsburgh area.
Jay Adzema, owner of Adzema Pharmacy on Perry Highway, says he hasn’t seen any increase in the sale of quit-smoking aids like nicotine gum and patches.
“I think people are biting the bullet for now,” he says, adding he expects more people to consider quitting when they start running out of money.