GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
Imagine walking into the convenience store in the not too distant future, and paying 40% more taxes on your nicotine products. “Good luck! That’s all I gotta tell you,” says Peter Hanby.
Sales tax is the primary source of revenue for cities, and the city of Grand junction is down 25%, but City Hall’s discussing a new nicotine tax that can help the city make $1 million by making smokers pay. Hanby says, “This is what we call the “bounce back effect.” When you try and set limits, and when you try and set boundaries on people, they tend to do the opposite.”
City Council is discussing to address the question and place the question on the ballot for the November 3rd election. “I will vote no because there are better ways to raise the money without, you know, angering a large population,” says Hanby.
Some cities in Colorado have already implemented the idea that’s easy to get around. Rem’s Tobacco & Pipe Shop owner, Lucas Benson knows all too well how customers adapt to high prices. “People will just go outside of the city limits to buy their cigarettes. It’s not hard to go to Clifton, it’s not hard to go to Palisade,” says Benson.
The tobacco and vaping tax will go to the city’s parks and recreation fund, but city council says it’s not fair to smokers to pay for a place they can’t smoke. So, the conversation will continue in April 2021 when the economy has possibly leveled off. Benson agrees with the decision and says, “I think it was a good move. I think that we survived COVID. This tax would have definitely hurt my business if not put me out of business. So, I’m glad they decided to take the time to review this further.”
The current tax for cigarettes is .84 cents per pack which has been the battle for this business owner. Benson says, “It would have killed me. People already buy tobacco products on the internet tax free.”