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Paying the price to light up

Some smokers may have gotten a nasty surprise today if they typically pick up their cigarettes before heading to work.

Beginning today, cigarettes will cost smokers an extra 70 cents per pack. The state cigarette taxes increased throughout the state by more than 125 percent, leaping from a 55 cent-per-pack tax to $1.25.

The hike makes Ohio's cigarettes the 12th most expensive in the nation, bad news for Lawrence County, just a few miles from the lower taxes of West Virginia, 55 cents, and Kentucky, 30 cents.

Ohio's higher taxes have already driven Ironton resident Joe Adkins to Kentucky for his cigarettes, but this tax hike is the last straw that may keep him from ever buying smokes in the Buckeye State.

"I've already stopped buying them here," Adkins said. "I won't buy them here unless I absolutely have to have them, and I buy them by the carton, so I don't think that will happen."

Adkins is such a comparison shopper that two weeks ago, he even bought six cartons of cigarettes in North Carolina while on vacation.

Adkins isn't the only one going out-of-state for smokes.

Tim Newman, owner of T.J.'s Tobacco in Chesapeake, said it may be difficult for him to stay open with West Virginia's lower prices so close to his store.

Newman said that with the hikes in gas prices it may be more feasible for residents to buy their cigarettes in Ohio before crossing the bridge.

Besides the obvious blow to his business from higher prices, Newman will also be hurt by an inability to offer multiple packs of smokes for discount prices.

"For the small man, it's not going to be very feasible because we're not going to be able to work any deals out like a three-pack for a certain amount," Newman said. "We've got to go straight across the board with it."

As he raises his prices, Newman will also have to do an inventory of all his cigarettes and submit the 70 cents per pack to the government.

Far from being enraged, the latest jump in prices has just left Tim Newman feeling defeated.

"It doesn't pay to get upset anymore, because the lawmakers are going to do it, and we just have to live with it, I guess," Newman said. "The poor man's just getting to the point where he can't afford anything."