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    North Providence proposes 30-cent town tax on cigarettes.

    NORTH PROVIDENCE -- A town cigarette tax of 30 cents per pack could produce $600,000 to $800,000 a year in new revenue.

    Councilman Paul Caranci, who proposed the measure to ease the burden on local taxpayers, said his calculations forecast such a rise in revenue, could reduce the tax rate by as much as 80 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The current rate is $29.95, the Providence Journal reported.

    On the other hand, he said, for a smoker who buys two packs a week, "paying 30 cents a pack more doesn't really impact your lifestyle," he said. According to Caranci's calculations, property owners would save $80 a year while a smoker of two packs per week would pay an additional $31 a year in taxes.

    And, he said, such a use tax gives people a choice. "If the price of cigarettes went up to where it was difficult to afford them, you could cut down smoking," he said. But if the property tax went up instead, "you couldn't say you were going to cut down living in your house. It's all or nothing."

    Addressing concerns that the increased price of cigarettes drives business out of town, Caranci said, "Right now in town there are several different prices for gas. Let's say one station is selling at $1.15 a gallon, and one two blocks away is selling gas at $1.21. If people were so concerned about those pennies -- that's six cents times 20 gallons -- nobody would be at the station where the price is $1.21.

    "But you see an equal amount of cars at every station. People shop out of convenience, out of habit."

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