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Cigarette makers confirm price increases

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Cigarette prices are rising again, with the three largest tobacco manufacturers expressing confidence that another increase won’t deter smokers in a sluggish economy.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Inc. and Philip Morris USA confirmed Friday that prices for most of their brands are going up. The increase goes into effect Monday for Philip Morris and Wednesday for Reynolds.

The manufacturers differ, however, on how the price increase is being done.

Reynolds and Lorillard are raising the list price by 6 cents a pack, or 60 cents a carton, according to the Journal. Although the list price is geared toward wholesale and direct-buying customers, they tend to pass most or all of such increases on to consumers.

Meanwhile, Philip Morris is decreasing its national off-invoice promotional discount to wholesale and direct-buying customers on all Marlboro and L&M styles by 6 cents a pack – which typically accomplishes the same goal. The list price is going up by 6 cents a pack for its other cigarette brands.

Reynolds spokesman Bryan Hatchell said the prices are going up on 21 brands, including Pall Mall and Camel, its two most popular. “As always, we cannot speculate on how this will affect price at retail as we do not set the price at retail,” Hatchell said.

In some instances, price increases go up quicker for the lower-level brands compared with the most popular.

Pat Shehan, owner of the Tarheel Tobacco retail chain, said the price increase may not affect most smokers who are loyal to a particular brand.

“The pricing is driving some blue-collar smokers more to the deeper discount brands, such as a Marlboro Special Blend and Pall Mall, because each price increase hurts,” Shehan said. “It could lead some people to roll their own, filtered cigars and possibly even electronic cigarettes.”

Read more: The Winston-Salem Journal