Measure 4: Voters Divided on Tobacco Tax Increase

If it passes it will increase the state’s cigarette taxes by an amount never seen in North Dakota. Store managers and smokers are frustrated.
Jennifer Maloney sells cigarettes everyday and she’s a smoker herself. 
“Back when I first started smoking cigarettes they were like two dollars,” says Jennifer Maloney, Assistant Manager, Leroy’s.
This November North Dakota voters will have the choice to approve Measure 4 – a tobacco tax increase by $1.76. 
Jennifer says her customers say they’ll quit for good if it passes. 
“A lot of them say that they aren’t going to be able to afford to buy cigarettes because of the increase,” she says.
That hike – which turns out to be close to 400-percent – includes e-cigarettes. The plan is for the money to go toward government-led programs for veterans, children and mental health.  
Skeptics are calling it nothing but a blank check. It would put 70 million dollars in the hands of lawmakers. 
“If they use it for something good you know to teach our children to not smoke, you know I guess it would be a good thing.”  
Others are more positive – thankful that it could mean less kids smoking. 
If Measure 4 passes it’s possible smokers will resort to making purchases across state lines, buy cigarettes online or on reservations – adding to drops in sales.
Tobacco accounts for nearly 40-percent of convenience store sales and that means less coins for folks like Jennifer. 
In about a month or so voters will have the choice of breaking this habit once and for all or keep it going. 
“It is a hard habit to break,” she says.
The North Dakota tobacco tax sits at just $44 right now. According to the ND Raise It Coalition, Measure 4 will save lives and reduce healthcare costs. 

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