The group that lobbies on behalf of the state’s convenience store owners is taking a stand against a proposed increase in the federal tobacco tax. Dawn Carlson, president of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa, predicts with another hike in the price of a pack of cigarettes, there’ll be even more attempts to steal smokes and that creates safety concerns for convenience store employees.
"Our main concern is to make sure that these individuals are operating and working in a safe environment so that adds more expense for our businesses," she says. Carlson predicts stores will have to hire more staff, increase security measures and install more security cameras if the cigarette tax goes even higher.
Tobacco products account for one-third of the items sold in convenience stores and Carlson says convenience stories have taken a hit since the state cigarette tax increased by a dollar a pack in mid-March. Adding another 61 cents on top of that in increased federal taxes, as some officials propose, would dampen sales even more and decrease tax revenue, according to Carlson.
"They’re going to see the impact of that and it’s not going to be good," she says. However, reports indicate Iowa tobacco tax receipts paid into the state treasury were up 157 percent in the month of June. Iowa’s cigarette tax went up by a buck a pack in March.