Not all in Arkansas will be paying more for cigarettes

MARKED TREE, AR (KAIT) - With the increase in cigarettes going into effect earlier this month, many Arkansans are either paying more or making changes. One change that doesn't involve kicking the habit is hitting the highway.

On March first Arkansans began paying an extra 56 cents for a pack of cigarettes.  They'll pay 62-cents more on April first when a federal tax hike goes into effect.

At least one Region 8 city is except from the $1.15 tax hike, that's because they are going to pay the Tennessee tax.  The exemption falls under a border regulation.  Since West Memphis is on the state line with Tennessee they qualify to pay the tax of that state plus three cents.

"I have to go to Missouri.  I give money to friends to go to Missouri and pick me up cigarettes," said Ashley Cantwell.

For Cantwell, buying cigarettes is a fact of her life.  Paying more has become hard.

"I hate having to take business away from here at the store but I just can't afford it anymore.  It's getting to where I have to buy it somewhere else or quit," said Cantwell.

Cigarette's are cheaper on the other side of every state bordering Arkansas.  The cheapest are in Missouri, taxed at only 17 cents a pack.

But for some in Region 8, buying cheap cigarettes means not leaving the state at all.  Cashier Courtney Daniel works at a gas station in Marked Tree and said their business hasn't gone down so far, but it could.

"A lot of people are probably going to go there and stock up on them.  They will probably buy them cartons at a time," said Daniel.

Even though they can support their habit for less that doesn't mean everyone will.

"We've already seen people come in here and they'll say that they're going to go, but the next day they'll come back in here and buy more cigarettes," said Daniel.

John Theis, the Assistant Revenue Commissioner for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration said this zone has existed for a long time.  In fact, other cities like Mammoth Spring are included in it.

Other un-incorporated areas of counties where a seller is physically within 300 feet of the state line are also included in this exemption.