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July 31. 2013 6:34PM

Nashua stores expect more business after Mass. tax hike

NASHUA — The general manager at Two Guys Smoke Shop in Nashua has no doubt that his shop is about to see more business from residents to the south.

Housed at 15 Spit Brook Road, the tobacco specialty shop expects to benefit from Massachusetts’ new tax on cigars, which yesterday went up from 30 percent to 40 percent of wholesale.

Not only are cigar taxes on the rise, but Massachusetts residents on Wednesday also experienced their first day of higher cigarette and gasoline taxes.

“Not everybody listens to the news, so this might take some time to sink in, but pretty soon, everyone will be talking about this at their local cigar shop,” said Jonathan Barbeau, manager at Two Guys Smoke Shop. “All they are doing in Massachusetts is driving every small business out of their state.”

Barbeau said it difficult to gauge just how many of his clients are already residents of the Bay State, but he is positive that number is set to increase now that taxes on cigars are even higher to the south.

“This will cause the trigger for people to cross over the border for their cigars,” he said on Wednesday. “I think we are definitely going to benefit. We are anticipating an influx.”

For an average box of cigars that might cost $100 in New Hampshire, that same box will now cost $140 in Massachusetts, he said, adding that is a significant difference in savings.

For a Massachusetts resident who might typically purchase one box of cigars, they may now consider traveling across the border into New Hampshire to purchase two boxes instead, according to Barbeau.

Verc Nashua Gulf station, which is also located near the state border at 242 Daniel Webster Highway, is also expecting some additional Massachusetts patrons at the gas pump.

“I really don’t know what to expect. I have no clue, to be honest,” Bona Bunsoneung, manager of Verc Gulf, said of Massachusetts’ additional gasoline tax of 3 cents a gallon. “We will most likely see more customers.”

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau is a vocal supporter of implementing a gas tax in New Hampshire, and echoed those sentiments on Wednesday in light of the tax activity to the south.

“The consumer is not the one that bears the burden of that tax,” said Lozeau, maintaining the gas prices in Tyngsborough, Mass., compared to south Nashua are still very similar despite the increased gas tax in Massachusetts.

Residents from the south travel north into the Granite State to purchase cigarettes and liquor, not necessarily cheaper gasoline, she explained.

“New Hampshire has always benefited when taxes go up in Massachusetts, especially the border communities,” added Lozeau, noting the higher cigarette tax to the south should help Nashua retailers.

The manager at Cumberland Farms at 308 Daniel Webster Highway, which is also near the state border, said Wednesday that the convenience store has prepared for an influx of gasoline and cigarette sales because of the tax increase in Massachusetts.

khoughton@newstote.com