When I moved here, I was aghast at the cost of ciggies. At the supermarket, which back in the motherland generally had the cheapest smokes (along with QuickTrip), they are exorbitant. Last year, on my first trip to the grocery store, I walked up to the counter and they told me my tasty tobacky friends would be $50 per carton. Wha - huh? I was used to paying around $35 at the local Publix, and that was shocking. And that $50 was BEFORE they raised the tax on them another dollar per pack, bringing the total to $60 per carton. I begrudgingly paid that a couple of times, before I ventured back south for the Dawgs games, and "stocked up" there.
Over the course of the summer, without regular supply runs to the south (or a Dharma drop) I did some research on how to cut the prices locally. I checked out ordering by mail from an Indian reservation, but that seemed like a pain in the ass, and the Feds regulate it such that you can't order by credit card, and I didn't feel quite right mailing checks or giving my bank account info to Chief Crazy Tumor. I finally found a local c-store that claimed "lowest prices in town!" and reluctantly shelled out $52 for a carton (but I got a free bic lighter!). Thankfully, football season rolled around again, and I was able to fill a duffle bag with a few cheap cartons of smoky treats during each visit. (I had to wedge them in, because I pack like a chick). But recently, the stash I'd built up from my last trip home in November was running low, and I was wondering what I'd do. So after some googling, I realized that Virginia had one of the lowest "sin taxes" on smokes around, and figured I might plan a trip there. (Actually, I had heard this before, but I have ZERO sense of direction, and didn't realize how close it really was). I made a few phone calls, and realized that the Rite Aids and CVSs there peddled cancer for $33 per carton. I also had a few coupons sent to me by the friendly folks at Marlboro (as part of their direct mail efforts I noted down in this post) that the local c-store wouldn't accept.
So this afternoon, I drove to another state, which it turns out was only about 30 miles away. Thank Zeus for the GPS though. I picked up 6 cartons of ciggies, and used two $4 off coupons and two $3 off coupons. I figure I used about $5 worth of gas, so all in all, I came out $123 dollars "ahead" for an investment of about an hour's time. I listened to Ron Moore's podcast for last week's awesome BSG (where he frequently drinks whiskey and "turns the smoking light on" so he can blow through a half a pack of American Spirits while recording it, which seemed to fit thematically with my journey) and all in all, it was a worthwhile trip.
So, to sum up: Thank you Virginny. Frak you Maryland state government. Thank you BSG podcasts. Thank you Marlboro.