Massachusetts Senate Discusses New Tobacco Tax Hike

Smoker with a Cigar

The Massachusetts Senate is discussing the possibility to raise the tax on flavoured cigars, little cigars and even blunt wraps (used to smoke marijuana), from 40% to 210%.

The proposal aims to prevent youth from strating smoking, because it was found that they are attracted by these products and as a result become addicted to smoking.

In case Massachusetts adopts the proposal in form of a law, the state would have highest tax on flavoured cigars across the nation. The new tax will be imposed to distributors of cigars. It means that a retailer who purchase a $1 flavoured cigar would have to pay a $2.10 tax and the final price for customers is going to be extremely high.

Tax on cigars without flavours will remain 40% as it is today. The sales tax would be applied just as before.

Those pushing for the law say that increasing the tax would help to discourage young people from smoking by making cigars unaffordable. As a result, smoking rates among youth would be reduced.

According to Senator Jason M. Lewis, Democrat of Winchester, the new tax would just close tax loophole because smokeless tobacco is already taxed at 210%. In their turn, taxes on cigarettes are also high.

Anti-smoking activists do welcome the initiative, but owners of convenience store dislike the idea. There was already introduced ban of tobacco sales to minors and this reduced shops revenue.

However, the authorities have different opinions on the proposal enforcement. Some say that in this fiscal year there will be no new taxes, others say that there is no exact date for introduction of the proposed tax.

Data shows that in 1995, 35.7% of high school students used at least a cigarette in past three months and this number was reduced to 10.7% by 2013. In 2013, 10.8% students in Massachusetts told that they used little cigars, cigars or cigarillos in the past month. That is the reason the law is needed.

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