In bars, liquor, cigarette proposals are no hit

Posted: May 17, 2013

At Brownie's Irish Pub in Old City during Wednesday's happy hour, bartender Robert McDevitt was not happy to hear about the city's new drink-tax proposal.

"I'm going to be losing twice," he said, fearing both a loss of business where he works and higher prices when he goes out to other establishments.

Stephen Hopson, owner of Brownie's, said it was unfair for businesses like his to be targeted for new taxes.

"The suburbs will be 15 percent cheaper," he said.

Hopson predicted that some bars would close.

Mike Rothman, who sells professional liability insurance to doctors and lawyers, said higher drink taxes would make him reconsider entertaining clients in Philadelphia.

"It's getting very hard to justify doing that in the city," said Rothman, a former owner of Brownie's.

Across Second Street, Ruairi Curran, 19, was taking a smoke break when he learned about the proposed tax hike on cigarettes.

His reaction was mixed. "Smoking is bad," he said between puffs. But a higher tax, he added, would hurt his wallet.

When told that the revenue would go to fill a budget gap for the School District, Curran sided firmly against the tax hike. "I don't think that's right," he said. "They should manage their money better."

Paul Bartley, 22, who was smoking outside the Plough and the Stars bar and restaurant, offered some cigarettes from his native Ireland.

He said a pack there already costs the equivalent of $11 in the United States.

"Every year in the [national] budget, they put the tax up on alcohol and cigarettes," he said. "Every year."

Bartley said smokers in Ireland complain, but generally accept the reality.

"It's a filthy habit," he said.


Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com, or follow @Robertmoran215 on Twitter.

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