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    Connecticut Smokers Debate Tax Hike

    Poll finds nearly half would prefer to quit or cut down rather than pay more taxes.

    DANBURY, Conn.
    Forget cutting into margins, a proposed tax hike could decimate cigarette sales in Connecticut.

    Rather than cough up an extra 61 cents a pack, many local smokers say they'll try to quit or at least cut down if the state raises the cigarette tax. In a recent Quinnipiac University poll, 71 percent of Connecticut voters said Gov. John G. Rowland's proposal to raise the cigarette tax by 61 cents is a "good idea," The (Danbury, Conn.) News-Times reported.

    From Feb. 8 to 12, the university surveyed 1,217 voters, with a margin of error of 2.8 percent. The survey included 185 smokers, with a margin of error of 7.2 percent. "Most smokers say a tax hike won't change their behavior. But it is significant that 41 percent of smokers said it would cause them to cut down or quit," the poll's director, Douglas Schwartz, said in a statement.

    If smokers in the area do quit or slow down, business owners like Pragneh Patel, co-owner of Cigar Box, a two-store chain in Danbury, would feel the pinch.

    "It will hurt the business because some people will quit, which is good if that's what they want," Patel said. If smokers don't succeed in quitting, Patel said they might switch to cheaper brands or smoke less.

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