Voodoo Economics

Asian retailer group speaks out against N.J. cigarette tax hike

TRENTON, N.J. -- In a press conference held at the New Jersey statehouse, leadership of the Asian American Retailers Association (AARA) spoke out against Governor Jon Corzine's recent proposal to raise the cigarette tax for the fourth time in as many years.

The proposal, which would increase the tax to $2.75 per pack, would make New Jersey's tax the largest in the nation. The tax hike, which follows 70-, 55- and 35-cent increases over the last three years, has angered retailers, the group said.

Jasal Amin, executive vice president [image-nocss] for the AARA, spoke on behalf of the association. Cigarette sales to adult consumers is critical to the retail economy. It consists of up to 60% of the independent retail market, he said. We are here to remind Trenton that the real impact is on the independent retailer who has in many instances invested his life savings into a store.

AARA is making the case that the tax hike is really voodoo economics. Studies presented at the press conference show the state would actually loose money. Daksesh Patel, a member of AARA and store owner operating near the Delaware border, gave one reason: We see Delaware consumption hit all time highs, just as New Jersey consumption is hitting all time lows.

He added, The correlation is clear; between online, out of state and illegal bootlegging, we lose. Patel added that the loss of a pack sale also causes the loss of additional merchandise. We lose the sales of candy bars, sodas and groceries, too.

Amin asked legislators to use reason when voting. The increase of the tax causes increased unemployment, the closing of stores, inconvenience to customers, less capital reinvestment, loss of sales tax for state and loss of taxable income, he said.

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