Local smokers make cost-saving switch

Glenda Rittenour and her mother, Claudette Ansberry, switched from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes one year ago and haven’t used tobacco since.

Mille Lacs County Times

Minnesota’s cigarette tax is currently near the national average, but two Republican lawmakers have proposed doubling down on that tax. The proposal from Sen. Carla Nelson and Rep. Mike Benson, both of Rochester, would raise the per-pack tax from $1.23 to $2.52. The politicians claim it could amount to as much as $320 million annually for the state.

Puffing away on a long, dark tube at her home in Ogilvie, Glenda Rittenour wasn’t surprised at the latest attempt to raise state revenues.

But she’s not worried about paying more for her nicotine fix, either. That’s because the device Rittenour is using to ingest the addictive substance is called an e-cigarette — a smokeless, battery-operated unit that delivers nicotine by vaporizing a liquid.

“The reason I switched was because of money,” Rittenour said. “I didn’t want to quit smoking.”

And she’s not alone. Annual sales of e-cigarettes in the U.S. have grown to $250 million and as high as $500 million since arriving from China in 2009, according to some estimates.

Rittenour’s mother, Claudette Ansberry, of rural Milaca, switched to e-cigarettes for a different reason.

“I switched because of the health issues,” Ansberry said. “The good thing about vaping is you’re not getting the tar, you’re not getting the poisons.”

For the rest of this story see the March 8 Mille Lacs County Times print edition.