Chicago small business owners against cigarette tax increase - FOX 35 News Orlando

Chicago small business owners against cigarette tax increase

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Convenience store owners will testify at a City Council hearing on cigarette taxes on Wednesday. Mayor Emanuel wants the tax to increase by $0.75. That would put Chicago's new tax total at $7.42.

By comparison, Indiana only charges a $0.99 tax on one pack of cigarettes. The low tax causes a run to the border for cigarettes, and lost sales for Chicago small business owners.

When customers stop by corner shops and convenience stores to pick up a pack on smokes, they tend to pick up other things before making it to the counter. That counts for a lot with small business owners in Chicago. On average at Jim Bayci's 7-Eleven on Wacker Drive, it means an additional $5.50 from a customer buying cigarettes.

But if a pack of cigarettes were to have a nearly $8 tax on them in Chicago, those customers will have even less incentive to buy local – and make those extra purchases in the city. That's the point the 7-Eleven Franchise Owners Association of Chicagoland member hopes to impress at City Hall.

"Every time we see packs go up, there's impact on our business," Bayci said. "We start to lose customer accounts. That doesn't just represent a pack of cigarettes. It's candy, gum, mints they buy while they are there."

On average, 7-Eleven customers already spend around $15 cigarettes per trip. Although it's a big corporation, individual 7-Eleven store owners and their employees will feel the largest impact of a cigarette tax increase.

"I just own one store. I work hard, work 12-hour days sometimes," Bayci told FOX 32 News. "I have a good group of employees, but it will impact all of us. When you start to lose business you have to drop the payroll down a little bit too."

Bayci also said in the decade that he's owned his 7-Eleven, every cigarette tax increase has meant a loss for the store.

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