TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A battle between the nation’s largest cigarette makers and a Florida company is heating up at the state Capitol. Price is the issue.
Dosal Tobacco was left out of the states settlement with cigarette makers and is able to sell more cheaply, which has given them market share and upset traditional tobacco companies.
Florida made 305 brand cigarettes are popular. Chris Askey smokes them because the are as much as three dollars a pack cheaper than some of the traditional brands.
“Five dollar a pack….Six dollars a pack….that is just too high for me,” said Askey.
One reason 305’s are so much cheaper is because their maker, Dosal, isn’t part of the settlement between Florida and major cigarette makers that drove other brands up by 50 cents a pack.
With almost 20% of the market, these low cost cigarettes have gotten the attention of the big name brands. Altria, the maker of Marlboro and other brands ran this full page ad in the Tallahassee Democrat to get lawmakers attention. Rep. John Tobia says its only fair to make the off brands pay the state at least 50 cents a pack for the health care costs they create.
“ People don’t smoke their cigarettes because of quality, they smoke them because of price. They still will be cheaper than the other ones,” replied Rep. John Tobia.
But Dosal, which has 31 lobbyists listed, has fought off higher fees for almost a decade, the company argues its done nothing wrong and hundreds of well paying jobs will be lost.
“Dosal didn’t advertise to minors. Dosal did not lie before congress. Dosal did not engage in a ledge acts of racketeering like big tobacco did,” Christian Ulvert said.
Lawmakers are caught in the middle. On one side, Florida is facing huge budget cuts and on the other, a Tea Party that is demanding no new fees or taxes.