As a long-time New Orleans business owner, I have been watching one of the proposed measures being considered by the Louisiana Legislature with increasing displeasure.
The Legislature soon could decide whether Orleans Parish can increase the tax on tobacco products by 80 cents. “Tobacco products” include cigars, cigarettes, and smoking and smokeless tobacco. This increase could negatively affect my company, my employees and a number of other stores in New Orleans.
If passed, this tax increase may lead to a multitude of negative economic consequences, including a reduction in revenue for retailers in Orleans Parish.
Under the proposed tobacco tax increases, more people might leave Orleans Parish to make their purchases in jurisdictions where the tobacco tax rates are lower. They may also make purchases of other items such as coffee, soda and gas in these locations. Such a shift could greatly harm local retailers in Orleans Parish since the sale of tobacco products like cigarettes makes up about 40 percent of the average convenience store’s sales.
Our local and state elected officials should focus on policies that create jobs and additional economic opportunity instead of considering a tax increase that will burden both businesses and consumers. I am hoping that our elected leaders in Baton Rouge realize what poor policy this proposal is.
KENNETH J. RETIF
Retif Oil & Fuel