Cigarettes flying off shelves ahead of state tax hike

By Maggie Vespa

June 22, 2012 Updated Jun 22, 2012 at 7:24 PM CDT

Across Illinois, it's getting down to the zero hour for smokers, and tobacco shops are feeling the heat.

The state's tax increase on cigarettes is set to take effect Sunday, raising prices by $1 per pack.

Workers at Discount Tobacco in Peoria say, in the last few days, customers have been coming in non-stop to stock up.

They, like several other area shops, have put a limit on how much one person can buy.

Managers say many customers are already making plans to avoid paying the increased price.

"One guy's already got cartons of cigarettes coming to him from out east. People are talking about going out of state, talking about quitting, different ways like maybe using the cig-electric and stuff like that to quit smoking," said Lorraine Harvey, assistant manager at Discount Tobacco.

Employees at Discount Tobacco say they expect business to plummet after Sunday's tax increase goes into effect, meaning there is about a 50-50 chance they will have to close their store within the next year.