Consumers Stocking Up On Cigarettes In Advance Of Tax Hike

CHICAGO (CBS) — A recent hike in the Illinois cigarette state excise tax appears to be causing a run on cigarettes.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports, smokers in Illinois seem to be anticipating the $1 per pack tax increase, and are stocking up in many places.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports

“Some of the consumers are trying to get a little bit ahead, and maybe buy about two cartons of cigarettes a week,” said Bill Fleischli, executive vice president of the Illinois Association of Convenience Stores. “They might buy three or four.”

Fleischli says the state is making it difficult for retailers to resupply, because he says they are slow in issuing the new tax stamps.

“We’ve asked the Department of Revenue to produce the stamps. As of Friday, they have not. The distributors in a shortage, and the retailer in the shortage, so the consumer can’t get exactly what they want.”

Fleischli fears the new tax will force smokers to go elsewhere – to Wisconsin, Indiana and even Missouri – to get cheaper cigarettes.

But lawmakers say the tax hike will raise some $350 million for the state’s Medicaid system.

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