Gov't shutdown avoided, but smokers fuming

Smokers in New York are fuming after state lawmakers passed a tax that makes prices in the state the highest in the nation.

The new tax, which goes into effect this fall, comes as part of an emergency budget plan that helped stave off a complete government shutdown until Monday. If a final budget plan isn't reached by then, Gov. David Paterson (D-N.Y.) says he will make one himself.

Smokers now have to pay an extra $1.60 in taxes for every pack of cigarettes, and face a 75-percent tax increase on cigars and chewing tobacco too. A crackdown on untaxed tobacco sales on Indian reservations is also included in the plan.

Raj Kataria, the manager of Cigar Warehouse in Scarsdale, says he's convinced people will start driving out of Westchester County in search of cheaper cigarettes, tobacco and cigars.

Lawmakers have finished about 70 percent of the budget. The remaining 30 percent includes some of the most controversial issues, such as funding for education and local governments.

For interview with Scarsdale cigar store manager about new state cigarette tax, go to your digital cable box and select iO Extra on Ch. 612.

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