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CLEVELAND -- Ohio earned about $81 million from its new cigarette tax in July and August -- about $6 million more than expected, the Office of Budget and Management announced last week.
Lawmakers approved the 31-cent increase in June to help balance a $1.9 billion deficit. The state estimated putting the total cigarette tax at 55 cents would earn an additional $224 million annually, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Opponents said it would drive smokers to border states where taxes were lower. But Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania all raised their cigarette taxes about the same time. The result was that the tax's negative impact still hasn't been felt, said Josh Sanders, spokesman for the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. He said the exception is Kentucky, which has a 3-cent cigarette tax. He said Cincinnati stores are continuing to lose sales to Kentucky businesses, although he didn't have statistics.
Sanders also said people will turn to cheaper cigarettes offered via the Internet.