Tobacco Tax has Minnesotans driving SD to purchase cigarettes - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Tobacco Tax has Minnesotans driving SD to purchase cigarettes

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It's been about a month since Minnesota implemented a major tobacco tax increase, raising the price of a pack of cigarettes by about $2. 

Convenience stores near the state's border are already seeing a big difference. 

"Ever since the prices went up we started going over to Flandreau to buy our cigarettes because they're just ridiculously expensive over here," said Pipestone resident Kristyn Taber. 

It's why many Minnesotans say its well worth the drive across the border. 

"It's probably almost $40 a carton," said Taber. 

"That's enough gas for me to go to work all week long…so I buy all my cigarettes in South Dakota now," said Stacy Page, who lives just over the Minnesota border. 

South Dakota convenience stores are stocking up on cigarettes to keep up with the new flow of Minnesota customers. 

"A lot of people from Minnesota come over and they buy tobacco, cigarettes and they buy cartons more than a box," said Flandreau cashier Kara Uilk. 

Cigarettes they all used to buy from Minnesota vendors. 

"I used to buy them right here in Pipestone," said Page. 

"We have seen a decrease in sales, per pack sales are down 27 percent and carton sales are down 45 percent," said Pipestone cashier Tami Johnson. 

The loss of cigarette sales is a big hit to convenience stores. 

"Cigarettes are a big part of the business, next to gas, that's the biggest thing...they'd come in and buy cigarettes, but they'd also get a pop or something. When they don't come in, they don't by the extras also," said Johnson. 

Many people who still buy cigarettes in Pipestone are changing their habits to deal with the new tax hike. 

"A lot of people have cut back you know that absolutely can't do the driving and stuff, couple guys said they cut back a pack a day," said Johnson. 

Some are just trying to quit altogether. 

"A lot of people walk in with a patch on, they're trying," said Johnson. 

"We're trying to quit because it's unhealthy and its so expensive," said Taber. 

Iowa gas stations near the Minnesota border are also seeing an increase in tobacco sales.  Several gas stations said they are selling and addition 15 to 20 cartons of cigarettes each week.

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