Cigarette prices rise ahead of looming taxes

Though a federal cigarette tax hike remains weeks away, at least two U.S. cigarette makers already have upped prices and another is cutting some wholesaler discounts as demand drops.

Both Altria Group Inc., which owns Philip Morris USA, and Lorillard Inc., which makes Newport cigarettes, increased their carton and pack prices in recent days.

Neither company would say what prompted the increases. But the federal tax on cigarettes will rise from 39 cents a pack to almost $1.01 on April 1. . . .

Arkansas’ proposed 56-cent increase, which already passed the state House, would pay for a statewide trauma system and a host of expanded health programs. Lindblom dismissed Mathe’s claim that the increase “unfairly burdens a small group.”

“They are killing those people and making them suffer and live horribly sick and disabled lives,” Lindblom said. “For them to have this kind of sympathy for them on a monetary level when they don’t care they are harming people enormously by their aggressive marketing of their product is two-faced and shameful.”

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