marlboro smoking lady

New Prices for Some Drinkers and Smokers

Published on June 9th, 2008 14:06

In Manhattan is organized a parade of experts of cheap malt liquor (malt liquor is a form of beer and is not sold as beer) and low-end cigars on its street corners and in its parks.

The State Legislature is planning to close a multibillion-dollar budget deficit partly by raising taxes on small cigars like White Owl and Swisher Sweets and malt liquors like Colt 45 and Olde English "800". The governor's plan would lift the malt liquor tax from 11 cents a gallon to $2.54 a gallon. Malt liquor can contain as much as 9 %, while beer has about 5 % alcohol by volume. A 40-ounce malt liquor will cost up to $2.50 but an equal amount of beer – $3.50 or more.

The governor supposes to raise as much as $18 million from the malt liquor tax and $5 million a year from the extra cigarillo tax.

Little cigarillos or cigars are the size of cigarettes but are wrapped instead of cigarette paper in whole-leaf tobacco. But the state representative said the two products would now be taxed similarly.

Now cigarillos are taxed as tobacco products, at 37% of the wholesale price. According to the governor's proposal, cigarillos would carry a tax stamp, too.

Even before the governor proposed his increases, there was a move, at least in the bodegas and delicatessens of Hell's Kitchen, to stop selling malt liquor.

A and A Market and Deli, at 45th Street and 10th Avenue, used to sell as many as 40 cases of malt liquor a week, but it became too bothersome to stock. "We have arguments here, very loud arguments," said Mustafa Saleh, 27, the deli's manager. "They don't want to pay."

When customers did pay, it was annoying, he said. "They paid in change," he said, "$2.50 in nickels, dimes and pennies; that's the kind of money they have."

Other deli workers are happy not to carry malt liquor.

"It's bad for the people," said Niff Alaradem 29, a clerk at Clinton Gourmet Market, at 46th Street and 10th Avenue. "You see so many alcoholic people, it's all they drink, Colt 45, Olde English, everything. They take one of these big bottles and it's dinner."