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Minnesota cigarette tax boosts Hudson sales

It's not just your imagination if you think you're noticing more signs in Hudson advertising cigarettes.

When Minnesota increased its cigarette tax to $1.23 per pack on Aug. 1, local retailers decided to let our neighbors know they can buy their smokes for less here.

Wisconsin's cigarette tax is 77 cents per pack. Before the recent 75-cent per pack increase in Minnesota's tax, cigarettes were priced lower there and residents of the Gopher state had no incentive to do their tobacco shopping in Wisconsin.

Add the federal tax of 39 cents per pack and the total per-pack tax on cigarettes is $1.16 in Wisconsin and $1.62 in Minnesota.

Minnesotans apparently have noticed the price difference.

"We definitely have had an increase in customers," said Rob Gilbert, store leader of the busy Kwik Trip next to Interstate 94 at Carmichael Road.

Gilbert said he couldn't be sure the reason for the increase in customers was Minnesota's cigarette tax because business at his store fluctuates with traffic levels on I-94.

But he said cigarette sales were up significantly, and a lot of the people buying them are Minnesotans.

Gilbert said Wisconsinites who work in Minnesota also used to buy their cigarettes there because they were cheaper. "We're gaining all of those people back," he said.

"That's absolutely a huge thing for the state of Wisconsin because we have many places along the state border where they can come and get their cigarettes cheaper," he added.

Paul Kirk, manager of the North Hudson Freedom store, also reported a big increase in cigarette sales.

He said Minnesotans returning from a round of golf at White Eagle or St. Croix National frequently stop to buy cigarettes.

"They're the ones that buy multiple cartons," Kirk said of the Minnesotans.

Gilbert and Kirk said the Minnesotans who stop in for cigarettes are also likely to purchase other items.

The Minnesotans aren't as likely to buy gas in Hudson, they said, because the state gas tax is lower in their home state.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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