Smokers Vent Anger Over Question One

Smokers and storekeepers yesterday expressed a mixture of anger and disappointment at the passage of Question One, a statewide referendum which places a 25 cent per-pack tax on cigarettes.

The ballot question, which passed Tuesday by a 55-45 margin, aims to raise revenue to be put in a state Health Protection Fund. Proponents hope the bill will help decrease the number of smokers in the state, both by raising the price of cigarettes and by using the tax money to fund education programs against smoking.

The tax, however, will put an added financial burden on smokers at Harvard and across the state. Additionally, many smokers interviewed said they were incensed because nonsmokers are using legislation to impose their values on smokers.

"The people should revolt against this," said Joshua B. Leib '94 of Adams House. "I think it's about the worst thing that could have happened."

Calling the bill "pathetic" and "disgusting," Leib said that Question One was an imposition of the majority's values on the minority. "It all has to do with somebody's ideals and it makes me really angry," Lib said. He said that he will go out of state to buy cigarettes in the future.


The American Cancer Society predicts that 80,000 people, including 28,000 children, will stop smoking because of the passage of Question One. The bill was supported by the Dana Farmer Cancer Institute, Group Against Smoking Pollution and many hospitals across the state. A similar tax in California reduced cigarette sales 17 percent.

John A. Golden '96 said that although he would be adversely affected by the passage of this bill, "it's understandable because [smoking] is a luxury that many people disapprove of."

Local businesses disagree about the implications of the bill. Muriel R. Qtr., a manager at the CVS on JFK Street, said Question One will have little effect on sales.

"I don't think that 25 cents is going to make that much of a difference to people who smoke," she said.

Ortiz said the bill is no different from themany other price increases that cigarettes havegone through in recent years. "We increase theprice of our cigarettes pretty frequently," shesaid. "It doesn't affect sales at all."

Paul J. Macdonald, a manager at Leavitt andPierce, a tobacco store, disagreed with Ortiz'sprediction.

"A lot of people will be looking for cheapercigarettes. As a business person, I was againstthe bill," he said.

Macdonald said that the bill was "just anotherway to raise revenue for the state." He questionedwhether the money would go toward anti-smokingprograms at all.

"If the money is appropriated right, then fine,but that was one of the main concerns with thebill," he said.

The tobacco industry spent $10,000,000 tooppose to the statewide referendum. Theycriticized the tax by saying that the money raisedwould not necessarily go to wards health programs.Because the legislature will have the final sayabout how to spend the money, the tobacco industryargued that the revenue from the tax couldconceivably end up anywhere, including the generalMassachusetts budget