Smokers are feeling pinched by today's 62-cent hike in the federal cigarette tax, the biggest ever. Federal taxes now top $1 per pack, CNN reports. At the same time, manufacturers and retailers have raised prices to boost dwindling profits. "They're picking on smokers," an 83-year-old said of the government. "I'm not going to quit smoking, regardless of what they do."
Proceeds from the higher tobacco tax, which President Obama authorized in February, will help expand state health insurance to an additional 4 million kids. Although some taxpayers prefer taxing nonessentials to increasing levies on fuel or food, smokers say they feel targeted as the price of an average pack jumps to $4.80. "I personally smoke cigars to relax," says one. "Why am I being punished for it?"