Local smokers react to new anti-smoking law

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A local cigarette dealer is worried about the future of his business after President Obama signed into law landmark legislation allowing the federal government to regulate the tobacco industry.

This new law, designed to stop teens from smoking, comes on the heels of a smoking ban here in Virginia and a new federal cigarette tax. The owner of The Cigarette Store off Forest Hill Avenue wonders how much longer he can remain in business.

Kishan Devani makes his living off smokers. But thinks the new anti-smoking law could cause a dip in future business.

"They're just trying to make it so difficult with the higher taxes and now from what I hear they're going to try to reduce the amount of nicotine," said Devani who owns The Cigarette Store.

Not only that, the law also gives the FDA unprecedented power over tobacco marketing campaigns - prohibiting them at sporting and entertainment events.

The government could also block labels like "low tar" and "light" and ban cigarettes with candy flavors. Something Devani doesn't sell a whole lot of.

"That market is not a big market flavored cigarettes I think 90 or 95 percent of my business is regular cigarettes," said Devani.

As far as the labels, Devani says people might just pay more attention to package coloring. He says the darker the color the stronger the cigarette.

President Obama, who started smoking as a teenager and has struggled to quit, believes the law will save lives.

"Vanilla, I don't know how good that is," said Christian Raposo as he was making a purchase at Devani's store.

Raposo says he's been a smoker for ten years - starting at age 14.

"I started smoking because all the other kids were doing it," said Raposo.

He says he understands Obama's goal, but a stronger impact would be on a smokers' wallet.

"I'd raise cigarette prices up instead of cutting nicotine out of them," said Raposo.

The new law creates a Center for Tobacco Products to oversee the new regulations. Opponents say the FDA isn't up to the job, and cite recent food safety failures.

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