Six N.J. ShopRites Said Stubbing Out Cigarettes

upermarkets of Cherry Hill reportedly decided to stop carrying tobacco products because high state taxes are burning right through category profits.

The tobacco-free retailing movement, which gained considerable momentum last month when Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets ceased offering tobacco products at its locations, continues to spread: By the end of March, all six New Jersey ShopRite stores owned by the Ravitz family through their company, Supermarkets of Cherry Hill, reportedly will also stop selling all tobacco items.

Unlike Wegmans' stated reason, which was health concerns first and foremost, the Ravitzes apparently based their no-tobacco strategy mainly on economics.

"It's not a good business to be in [in] New Jersey, which imposes the highest state excise tax on cigarettes in the nation," grocer Jason Ravitz told the Cherry Hill, N.J. Courier-Post. "There is almost no profit in it anymore."

In New Jersey, cigarettes cost $2.58 cents a pack, with a federal tax of 39 cents per pack imposed on all cigarettes. The state ranks 10th in the nation in the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

"Some of our customers will be upset, but sales have been declining," noted Ravitz. "Smokers are buying anyplace but here."

The Ravitzes' ShopRite stores are located in Cherry Hill, Mount Laurel, and Marlton, N.J.
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