When legislators answer their home phone this weekend, they may get an earfull from a smoker. Most Iowa grocery stores are handing out fliers to people who buy cigarettes, urging them to ask their lawmakers to reject the proposed hike in the cigarette tax. The fliers list the names and home phone numbers of legislators. Iowa Grocery Industry Association president Jerry Fleagle says raising the cigarette tax may hurt many grocery stores. He says grocery stores in Iowa’s border areas now enjoy a “competitive advantage” because cigarettes are cheaper here when compared to neighboring states which have higher taxes. Fleagle says if the tax goes up, some customers will go across the border to another store to buy their smokes. Fleagle says it’s a “double whammy” because most people who go into a store to buy cigarettes usually buy something else while they’re there. Over one-thousand grocery stores are distributing the fliers to customers who buy smokes. “We’re letting people…that consume tobacco products…(know about) the tax increases that are being proposed and what they can do about it,” Fleagle says. “We’re just supplying…them with information that they can talk with their state legislators on.” The fliers are also being distributed to people who buy cigarettes at Casey’s stores around the state.
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