Norman businessman Raja Owais is concerned a proposed cigarette tax increase would hurt his business.
Owais owns Norman Super Mart, a convenience store that sells cigarettes.
In a typical day, Owais' store makes $800 to $900 in cigarette sales. Many of his customers are University of Oklahoma students who don't have much money to spend. Owais worries adding 94 cents to each pack of cigarettes — nearly $10 per carton — would cut into his sales.
“With the economy nowadays, it's tough for people to buy a pack of smokes,” he said.
Owais, a smoker, said his store is already seeing competition from other cheaper alternatives like tobacco vaporizers and electronic cigarettes. A sharp increase in the price of cigarettes would make it even more difficult for Owais, he said.
“That's way too much,” he said. “It's way out of hand.”
But Oklahoma City resident Jim Gormley said he doesn't think a 94-cent tax increase is enough. Gormley, a former smoker, said he hopes the government makes cigarette smoking so expensive that smokers decide to quit.
“Limiting where smoking is allowed and changing people views on the habit help, but raising the price of cigarettes is one of the best things we can do,” Gormley said. “Ultimately, we all pay for smokers when they end up sick or in the hospital, and this tax might help a little.”