Lubbock Uprising Against Sin Tax - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/23/04

Lubbock Uprising Against Sin Tax

Just days after Governor Perry announced the sin tax proposal, Nothin' Butt Smokes started a petition against it. Since Monday, 11,000 people have signed their name in protest.

"We hate the tax. We think that it's excessive it's unfair it's discriminatory," says Shon Ross who owns a dozen tobacco product stores in the Lubbock area. And he's given his employees another very important job to do: Get every customer to sign a petition to stop the tax.

"This is just a drop in the bucket compared to what's going on in the state," says Ross.

Lubbock stores have joined a state wide uprising against taxing all tobacco products. One dollar added to a pack of cigarettes and doubling the price of smokless tobacco products. Since petitions hit store counters on Monday, an overwhelming 11,000 names have been collected.

"They represent the voices of our customers, voices of people who aren't our customers. They've heard about it and come into our stores," says Ross.

"I signed the petition obviously because I smoke and pleasure taxes I don't think are very appropriate," says smoker, Herman Malone.

According to the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, a surprising 25% of Texans smoke or use tobacco products. Many feel a tax on the freedom to smoke is just plain unfair.

"I feel that right to choose is being jeopardized," says smoker, Elaine Smallridge.

"We can raise taxes another way. It's just your putting a burden on a certain segment of society where as we all should bare the tax equally," says Malone.

Others say if a tax is in order, why not use a chosen habit as a source of revenue.

"I think if you're gonna tax cigarettes and if the money were to go to education I think that would be outstanding and if we could do it by taxing cigarettes which is a choice I would be all for it," says Cindy Wiebusch, who is for the tax.

But Ross says smoking is a right that should not be discriminated against.

"We're not gonna be walked on any longer we're gonna stand up united and we're gonna fight against this and make sure something more equitable is the solution for our state," says Ross.

If you would like to sign a petition you can go by any Nothing Butt Smokes location. These petitions will be hand delivered to Austin next week along with thousands of others from all over the state.

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