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Tobacco tax official: Legislature passes tax hike; Demopolis tax doubles

If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and you live in Demopolis, get ready to come off the wallet a little more.

Members of a conference committee in the Alabama Legislature approved a 63-percent increase in the state tobacco tax on Monday. Pending Gov. Bob Riley’s signature, the state will increase the tax on tobacco from 16.5 cents per pack to 42.5 cents.

In a second-hand-smoke sort of manner, most Alabama cities also have been forced to raise their own tobacco taxes.

Thanks to language in the Legislature’s revenue-generating bill, cities can not raise tobacco taxes again. Demopolis city officials — like others around the state — decided a week ago to double its tobacco tax just in case the Legislature passed this bill.

In Demopolis, the tax has increased from 4 cents per pack to 8 cents per pack.

According to Mayor Austin Caldwell, the new tax went into effect Saturday — the first day after the city’s ordinance was published and submitted to the people.

“We sent letters to all the distributors telling them about the tax,” Caldwell said. “On their next cycle, they’ll pay the increased tax for everything sold after Friday.”

Distributors are the ones who will pay the increased tax, though they will pass along the cost to those who purchase tobacco.

For a person in Demopolis, the tax means pack-a-day smokers will pay $2.10 more per week; $9.10 more per month; or $109.20 more per year more for cigarettes.