Some turn to e-cigarettes as a cheaper alternativeWith a cigarette tax increase looming in Minnesota, a trend toward cheaper alternatives is accelerating.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
With a cigarette tax increase looming in Minnesota, a trend toward cheaper alternatives is accelerating.
That includes roll-your-own cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.
“A lot of people are going to the electronic ones,” Mike Kasapidis, manager of Cigs for Less, said. “It’s a new trend now.”
Mike Waz, manager of the Smoke Shop, agreed.
“What we’re seeing is a huge interest in electronic cigarettes,” Waz said.
“E-cigs are just so much more economical.”
Although the Legislature also passed a tax increase on e-cigarettes, the overall cost is significantly less than for traditional cigarettes, the retailers said. And they get a higher profit margin on e-cigarettes and everything else that isn’t a traditional cigarette.
“You only make 8 percent on cigarettes, which is nothing,” Kasapidis said. “Cigarettes are just to get people in there.”
State Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, who sponsored the state’s Freedom to Breathe Act in 2007, said he didn’t like the e-cigarette tax hike.
“There are unresolved scientific issues about electronic smoking, but I think it definitely would be more healthy to do that than it would be to do regular smoking,” Huntley said.
Waz went so far as to call e-cigarettes a “win-win, health-wise,” because there’s no smoke and no tar.
But Mike Sheldon, senior communications manager for ClearWay Minnesota, a nonprofit that seeks to reduce tobacco use, said he’s an e-cigarette skeptic.
“It’s important to remember that these are not a safe alternative to smoking,” Sheldon said.
“E-cigarettes are not (Food and Drug Administration)-approved. They’re not regulated. Consumers don’t have any way of knowing what’s in them.”