Local businesses feels the effects of statewide cigarette tax


A cigarette-rolling machine ready to create a cigarette. With increased taxes on the sale of cigarettes more people are turning to roll-you-own cigarettes to save money.

By Erin Kolb

Local Tobacco stores are seeing effects from a statewide cigarette tax increase of $1 in June and Cook County’s decision to raise the county’s tax even more.

Patrick Garcia, employee at Huskies Discount Tobacco, 1023 W. Hillcrest Drive, said Cook County’s tax increase has had a positive effect on sales.

“We have been getting a good amount of customers who travel this way for work,” Garcia said. “We have a lot of people from the city who will buy cigarettes out here before they go home because it’s cheaper here.”

Greg Lawson, co-owner of Shadowlands, 1027 W. Hillcrest Drive, has also noticed the effects of Cook County’s increase.

“Compared to Chicago’s prices, people are amazed at how much cheaper we are out here,” Lawson said. “We get a lot of Chicago people that come out here, so the fact that we have such a good deal on Newports I’d say gets us a positive response from customers.”

Lawson said a few brands have been trying to keep their customers loyal by offering many coupons. These offers have created a boost of sales for these brands.

Sometimes, even with coupons, smokers are looking for cheaper alternatives to cigarettes. Muhammad Mustafa, owner of Smoker’s World, 818 W. Lincoln Highway, has noticed an increase in roll-your-own tobacco and electronic cigarette sales.

“Ever since the increase in the end of June where they had a dollar increase in the state, I’ve had a lot of people switching to making their own cigarettes,” Mustafa said. “I have a lot more inventory of roll-your-own tobacco, rolling machines and empty cigarette tubes, things like that. I’ve been selling quite a bit more of that, and it’s a much cheaper way to smoke.”

Mustafa said hand-rolling cigarettes can yield a carton’s worth of cigarettes for about $30 to $40 less than a carton of pre-rolled cigarettes, making them a popular choice.

“Roll-your-own and electronic cigarettes have definitely become more popular,” he said. “An electronic cigarette can be smoked anywhere and it’s not illegal, and with roll-your-own you get more for your money as far as cigarettes go.”

Lawson said heavy smokers use a number of alternatives to avoid the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

“People use alternatives like electronic cigarettes or roll-your-own; and this isn’t a good thing, but I’ve seen people picking cigarette butts up off the ground and smoking them,” Garcia said. “People will smoke if they’re going to smoke, and they’ll smoke anything.”

Mustafa said he gets good business from electronic cigarette smokers.

“I’ve been carrying electronic cigarettes for about four years now,” Mustafa said. “Usually around the New Year, I’ll get people who want to quit smoking or even save money in the new year by buying electronic cigarettes, and in the last few months that’s increased.”

Mustafa said that just like with roll-your-own cigarettes, buying a cartridge for the electronic cigarette will save about $30 to $40 for the equivalent of a carton’s worth of tobacco.