Tobacco Tax Legislation Will Be Too Hard on Smokers, Tobacco Shops,

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) - While the governor talks up a sales tax hike on cigarettes, some merchants who specialize in tobacco products worry about their livelihoods. Governor Beebe wants to raise taxes on cigarettes and chewing tobacco to pay for health-care programs.

He's proposed an increase of 56 cents a pack, which comes at a time when Congress is considering a 61-cent tax hike on cigarettes. Larry Cobb of Tobacco Superstore, which has 78 stores throughout the South, including Arkansas, says that one in four Arkansans are smokers.

Cobb says smokers are being "crushed" by taxes. He describes the state and federal legislation as a move toward a "Prohibition-type era."

Cobb says that with higher taxes, people will start selling cigarettes out of the backs of their cars and smokers might start buying from overseas.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)