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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Louisiana's 'no new taxes' Gov. Bobby Jindal is now considering an increase in the state's cigarette tax.

Right now, the state charges 36 cents per pack - much lower than neighboring states.

Texas and Arkansas both charge more than a buck a pack. The national average is a $1.47.

Shoppers at the Super Discount store in Chalmette say the tax on smokes is already high enough.

'How are we going to survive?' said Gwendolyn Carter. 'If you want to get one little good thing, smoking those cigarettes, ease your mind and they coming up with prices again. It's ridiculous.'

'If they're going up on cigarettes, I feel that they ought to go up on the pay raises, too, you know,' said Albert Lavigne.

'I know and understand cigarettes are dangerous for your health, but you know what, we work hard for our life and I don't think they should raise taxes on cigarettes,' said Faye Chaussy.

Just two years ago, Jindal opposed a 70 cent per pack hike in the cigarette tax. Last year, he vetoed a 4 cent tax renewal on tobacco.

This year the administration is willing to revisit the issue as part of a broader discussion about eliminating personal and corporate income taxes.

'We've always said that we would be fine with it, if it was done in a revenue neutral way,' Jindal said. 'We are willing to consider this and other changes as part of a larger effort to eliminate the income tax in a revenue neutral way.'

Anti-smoking advocates say a higher tax on cigarettes is a good thing.

'As the tobacco tax increases consumption actually decreases, especially among youth and those who have lower income,' said Tonia Moore, associate director for Louisiana's Campaign for Smoke-Free Living.

Smokers have mixed feelings on the effect of higher taxes.

'If they keep raising the taxes, nobody, you know, nobody is going to smoke,' said Chaussy.

'There's a lot of people that done tried to stop,' said Lavigne. 'I tried several times, even used the patches. It's like I'm hooked on them. I don't think that's just going to stop everyone from smoking.'

Jindal's tax reform package is expected to be considered by lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session.

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