Posted by Colby Rogers - email
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Altria, the nation's largest tobacco company, says it is planning to raise its cigarette prices on Monday ahead of an increase in federal tobacco excise taxes.
The Richmond-based manufacturer also raised the cost of their cigarettes by 9 cents per pack in February.
To help absorb the cost of a 62 cent raise in federal cigarette taxes set to take effect in April, Altria says they're raising the price again by either 71 cents or 81 cents.
An Altria spokesperson says announcing the price increases early is a "business decision." But the company stresses that it's up to the wholesalers and retailers to decide whether they'll pass on the increase to customers.
Cigarette store owner Kisan Devani says the federal tax increase is going to have an effect on cigarette sales. Manufacturers are already seeing a decline in demand.
"Nobody likes it - they're all shocked. They're expecting it to go up April 1 anyways. Everyone knows it's going up, it's a federal thing," Devani said. "They would just stock up a little bit, so they save a few dollars here and there. But if it goes up suddenly and immediately, it's going to hurt people."
Smoker Rickie Stephens says the price increase may make him think about the money he's spending on cigarettes.
"It may make me cut back some on not smoking as much," Stephens said, "As far as quitting - no. It's something I enjoy."