Food vs. cigarettes bill receives mixed reaction

A Tennessee organization is backing a bill with some proposed cuts and increases that could affect your grocery bill. Tennesseans for Fair Taxation wants taxes on food to be cut by half, a cut that would be covered by an increase in taxes on cigarettes..

The food vs. cigarettes tax proposal is receiving mixed reactions here in Memphis.

"If smokers want to keep up with their bad habits, then tax them," said non-smoker Beauty Robertson. "I don't feel it's a bad measure."

Vince Gulla, who runs the Madison Avenue News and Tobacco Shop, says if the increase in cigarette taxes is approved, businesses like his will suffer.

"I think they will lose money," he said. "I think their sales will drop, which in effect would cut their profits."

Memphian Letha Barron rolls her own cigarettes to keep prices down. While she likes the idea of saving money on food, she doesn't expect to save much overall, because she won't give up her nicotine habit.

"I'll still buy them," she said. "I ain't going to like, it but I still buy 'em because I smoke."

In the end you could wind up paying about 43 cents more for a pack of cigarettes. At the same time, the price of a loaf of bread would drop by an average of three cents. The Tennessee legislature is still studying the measure. A decision could be reached by the end of the year.