Emanuel Wants to Boost OTP Tobacco Taxes

Chicago mayor seeks new school program funds via cigar, RYO, smokeless increases

Rahm Emanuel Chicago

Rahm Emanuel

CHICAGO -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to put a $6-million tax on cigars, roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco and smokeless tobacco to pay for a one-week summer transition program for all incoming high school freshmen and two weeks of summer school for eighth-graders identified as dropout risks, even as the district braces for mass cuts to existing programs and staff, reported The Chicago Sun-Times.

Both programs will be paid for by a $6-million tax on tobacco products that have escaped taxes that have been placed on cigarettes.

Specifically, the tax plan includes:

  • 15 cents on every mini-cigar. That would raise the average price of a pack of 20 mini-cigars from $5.79 to $8.79. Chicago already levies a tax of $7.17 per pack on cigarettes, the highest in the nation.
  • 90 cents on every full-sized cigar. That would raise the average price of a two-pack of cigars from $2.25 to $4.05.
  • $6.60 on every ounce of RYO tobacco. That would raise the average price of a small pouch of tobacco from $7.25 to $11.54.
  • $1.80 on every ounce of smokeless chewing tobacco sold in cans. That would raise the average price of a 1.2-ounce can from $4.19 to $6.35.

Tobacco products have long been one of Emanuel’s favorite taxing targets, said the report. Since taking office in 2011, the mayor has pursued a sweeping anti-smoking agenda that includes imposing the nation’s highest cigarette tax; banning electronic cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited; moving them behind the counter of retail stores; snuffing out sales to minors; and banning the sale of flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of schools.

The mayor’s 2016 budget included a $1 million tax on e-cigarettes.