OCT. 6, 2020. . . (State House News Service) — Cigarette sales in Massachusetts were down by 24 percent in August, according to convenience store owners, and the state has seen a nearly $32 million drop in tobacco excise taxes in the three months since its first-in-the-nation ban on menthol cigarettes took effect.
The decline in cigarette tax stamp sales would put Massachusetts on pace to exceed the $93 million in foregone revenue projected by the Department of Revenue last year from the menthol and mint cigarette ban.READ MORE: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
The New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association said the ban has pushed sales to neighboring states, including New Hampshire and Rhode Island where overall cigarette sales were up 65 percent and 17 percent in August, respectively. New Hampshire saw a 91 percent spike in menthol cigarette sales alone in August, and Rhode Island’s coffers benefited from 40 percent bump in menthol sales.
The ban on menthol cigarettes in Massachusetts took effect on June 1, 2020, and while public officials were willing to give up some revenue for the public health benefits of banning all types of flavored tobacco, convenience stores say residents are simply bringing the products back from other states.READ MORE: Wednesday's Child: 11-Year-Old Zayalani
“We are not surprised to see the revenue losses continue to add up in Massachusetts, nor are we shocked to see New Hampshire reaping the benefits of the policy,” said Jonathan Shaer, executive director of the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association. “Menthol, mint and wintergreen tobacco continues to be in high demand and our customers have now found alternatives to getting the products they want – the products we used to sell in a regulated, permitted environment.”
“They are now being brought into Massachusetts from over its borders for personal consumption and illegal distribution. The state and our stores both lose,” Shaer said.
According to NECSEMA, sales of cigarette tax stamps in Massachusetts since the menthol ban took effect were down 17.2 percent in June, 23.7 percent in July and 29.9 percent in August.MORE NEWS: Amazon Driver Charged With Child Porn After Allegedly Wearing Wig, Taking Pictures In Wrentham Outlets Bathroom
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