Jump at the pump in Illinois gas tax expected to drive residents to Missouri

WEST ALTON, Mo. – Higher taxes on gas and cigarettes will take effect Monday, giving Illinois residents one more reason to spend their money in neighboring Missouri.

The Phillips 66 Rivers Edge gas station in West Alton, Missouri has been busy all day with Illinois drivers filling up. It’s the first gas station Illinois drivers encounter when driving over the Clark Bridge into Missouri.

Beginning Monday, the Illinois gas tax will double, going from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents per gallon. The tax increase will help fund the state's $45 billion plan for road and bridge repairs and public transit.

"It's crazy how it’s about to go up. I don’t think that's fair,” said Alton resident Timothy Samuels.

Also starting July 1, the Illinois state tax on a pack of cigarettes will increase from a $1.98 to $2.98. And another law going into effect on Monday prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing cigarettes. Many Illinois residents said it’s worth the drive to Missouri gas stations to spend their money.

"It would be like a power bill or something—you know what I’m saying—for a month’s time buying gas in Illinois. So that's why I’m buying it over here. I probably save about a hundred bucks,” said Alton resident Brent Webster.

The Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association and Illinois Association of Convenience Stores predict the gas and cigarette tax hikes will force some of the convenience stores close to the border to go out of business.

“Well, I’m 18 and I’m a smoker, so it definitely affects me,” said Selena Douglas of Roodhouse, Illinois. “I’m just going to have to stop (smoking). Probably be better anyways if I do.”

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