Business

Tohono O'odham Nation increases tobacco tax


Citing a need to increase revenues and provide governmental services, the Tohono O'odham Nation has joined the state of Arizona in raising tobacco taxes.

State voters approved an 82-cent increase on a pack of cigarettes last November. Although the tax doesn't apply on reservations, the Tohono O'odham Nation went ahead with its own increase on December 19.

"We have so many needs that we haven't been able to keep up with. A lot of people are still in a state of poverty, and there are no jobs. Our waiting lists are so long in terms of housing, different things that people need to improve their lives," Harriet Toro, a tribal executive assistant, told The Tucson Citizen.

The increase has smokers looking for cheap cigarettes in Mexico and on the Internet. That has hurt business on the reservation by 30 to 40 percent, said a smoke shop manager.

"It's hit us hard," Donna Martinez told the paper. "People say they're going to Nogales, going to the Internet."

But some people are going to the Pascua Yaqui Reservation. The tribe hasn't raised its tax.

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Mexico's prices luring U.S. tobacco buyers (The Tucson Citizen 1/3)