SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ California smokers and smokeshop owners are fuming over a week-old tobacco tax increase that boosts the cost of a pack of cigarettes from a vending machine to $2 or more.

The tax, approved by voters in November and effective Jan. 1, jumped from a dime to 35 cents on a pack of cigarettes and raised the price of cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff and pipe tobacco by 42 percent.

''They're leaving here screaming,'' said Mike Mustafa, a clerk at Mike's Grocery in San Francisco. ''They're saying 'No way.' They storm out the door. They think it's only me raising the price. I tell them, 'You voted for it.'''

The hike makes California's tobacco tax one of the nation's highest. Minnesota's tax of 38 cents a pack on cigarettes is tops; by contrast, North Carolina, where tobacco is the leading cash crop, charges a mere 2 cents a pack.

The tax increase coincided with price increases from many wholesalers and a new federal tax of 45 cents a pound on tobacco. Some manufacturers are charging 75 cents a pound more for pipe tobacco and 5 to 15 cents more for each cigar.

A pack of regular domestic cigarettes that sold for about $1.50 two weeks ago is now selling for $1.75 over some counters, $2 to $2.25 in vending machines and $3 at Candlestick Park concession stands.

At one smoke shop, the price of a 14-ounce package of pipe tobacco jumped from $10.56 to $18.16.

The tax is expected to generate $650 million in revenue to be spent for health care for the indigent, research on smoking-caused diseases, smoking prevention education and fire prevention. It was approved by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin.

American Tobacco Institute spokesman Walker Merryman in Washington, D.C. said no one really knows how many people may cut back on smoking or quit, but the longterm economic impact on the industry undoubtedly will be negative.

''I think it's a brutal tax. You don't see this sort of tax on alcohol,'' said Judy Adami, whose family has run the Smoke Shop at Bank of America headquarters in San Francisco for 18 years.

Cigarette sales are down, Adami said, but faring even worse are high- quality cigars. Cigars that sold for about $63 a box a year ago are about $100 now.

She blamed the declining sales on the tax increase, New Year's resolutions by many smokers to quit and end-of-the-year stockpiling.

Adami said many customers are stoic: ''The answer I get is, 'This will separate the men from the boys.'''

''It was amazing how many cigarettes we were selling during the last week of the year,'' said Joe Singleton, owner of Ramona Village Market and Liquor in Chino, south of Los Angeles. ''The manufacturers couponed their products. With everybody stockpiling, I think they did pretty good at getting rid of their old inventory.''

At a tobacco shop in El Cerrito, about 15 miles east of San Francisco, an owner who asked not to be identified said he sold only two packs of cigarettes between New Year's Day and late Thursday.

''This is a state tax that is killing me and killing me,'' he said, adding that he may shut down unless business improves. He contended that election advertising for the proposition stressed taxes on cigarettes alone.

Bob Wharton, a Smokewatchers International director and longtime leader of stop-smoking clinics, doubted that higher prices affect the habits of hardcore smokers.

''The biggest thing that motivates people to stop smoking is peer pressure ... more than all the health scares, surgeon general's warnings or price,'' he said.

At The Tinder Box Tobacco Shop in Glendale near Los Angeles, a woman who asked not to be named said, ''My mother told me if it was $2 a cigarette, she'd still smoke.''

Researchers at the National Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta issued a report Thursday saying that smoking is more of a mark of the poor and less educated and has declined across all educational groups.

The researchers also said fewer than 10 percent of college graduates will smoke in the year 2000, but at least 30 percent of those with no more than a high school education will.

More than 50 million Americans smoke. Smoking-related deaths claim 390,000 lives in the United States annually, according to Joann Schellenbach, a spokeswoman with the American Cancer Society in New York.