Officials: Number of smokers seeking help kicking the habit skyrockets after tax increase

OKLAHOMA CITY – Officials say that it appears as if more Oklahoma smokers are trying to kick the habit after a tax increase on cigarettes went into effect.

Under House Bill 1010XX, the legislature approved a $1 per pack tax increase on cigarettes.

When the increase went into effect in July, it caught some smokers off guard.

“I still tell people I say, ‘You know, cigarette price went up.’ ‘Say what?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘How much?’ ‘A dollar.’ ‘A dollar a pack! I’m not going to buy any,’” said Rex Rogers, manager of the Conoco at N.E. 63rd and Kelley.

According to preliminary numbers from the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, the number of Oklahomans who called in July of this year grew by 85%, compared to July of last year.

About 4,200 Oklahomans registered for the free services this July, compared to 2,300 callers in July of 2017.

They say it’s evidence that the cigarette tax hike that went into effect July 1 is motivating Oklahomans to quit.

“Quitting smoking is difficult and TSET is here to help Oklahomans make that healthy choice that will save lives, and dollars,” said TSET Executive Director John Woods. “The increase in registrants is encouraging to see and confirms what we know, most smokers want to quit, and increasing the price of cigarettes and little cigars will help smokers make the decision to quit, and stay quit. Price increases also keep young people from starting, and that’s positive news for the future of our state.”