Cigar Taxes Biggest Trend Since Smoking Bans
Let the madness begin! Following grumblings across the country, more municipalities are starting to jump on the sin tax bandwagon ... and they're targeting us. Maryland, for example, is looking to use tax increases on tobacco (as well as alcohol and payroll) to fund health insurance via the state.
In a bout of much-welcomed civil disobedience, Davidus Cigars in Frederick and Urbana, Maryland, offers a message to his customers on its website: "CAUTION, you are about to enter the government shakedown zone."
The Maryland bill would kick the tax on cigars from 15 percent of the manufacturer's price to 90 percent. Of course, these are not the percentages that consumers would see (as a result of retailer markups), but the impact would be noticeable. Meanwhile, the cigarette tax would increase by 37.5 percent to $2.75. The State of Maryland expects these measures to generate $28 million in tax revenue.
Retailers, of course, are bleak. Davidus owner David Castro believes that the 90 percent tax rate would put him out of business. Proponents of the new expense for cigar smokers are dreaming more optimistic, claiming that cigar industry folks are "Chicken Little crying wolf."
Across the border in Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell's 2009 budget would add another 36 cents per ounce to the tax on loose tobacco and the same amount for every 10 cigars. The tax on cigarettes would move from $1.35 to $1.45.