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SC cigarette tax to go up

BRUNSWICK COUNTY -- South Carolina's cigarette tax could soon be going up. And it could have an impact on Brunswick County smokers who now drive across the border to buy their cigarettes. Smoking has and continues to be a costly habit. And it could get worse for those living in South Carolina. The current sales tax on cigarettes in South Carolina is seven cents a pack. The cheaper cost for cigarettes there has been an enticing deal for North Carolinians here. Many North Carolina smokers paying a 35 cent tax have been crossing the border to save money. Shallotte resident Trey Daway said, "We live a mile from the South Carolina line and the sales tax are cheaper in South Carolina, it's not real often that I go but I do." A Senate committee in South Carolina is considering raising its tobacco tax to almost 45 cents. Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce President Cathy Altman says a sales tax hike in South Carolina could mean more tobacco users spending their money in North Carolina. Altman said, "I think consumers are always looking to save money. If the proposed sales tax does increase in South Carolina on tobacco products, I think the residents of our county will stay home and purchase locally." Brunswick County resident John Phillips said, "I would drive to South Carolina twice a day, I had several people who would ask me to pick cigarettes for them, they are more worried about the gas than cigarettes right now." Shallotte resident Greg Chapman said, "With the price of gasoline the way it is right now, I don't think it's worth the effort." The South Carolina Senate committee said it needed more time to determine the impact a tax hike would have on the region. Currently the average state tax on cigarettes across the country is more than a dollar a pack.

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