Ticking Up Tobacco Taxes

14 senators introduce bill to increase excise taxes on cigarettes, small cigars, more

WASHINGTON--A group of 14 Democrats in the U.S. Senators have introduced a bill that could potentially double the excise tax on cigarettes and small cigars, according to a report by the Winston-Salem Journal. The federal excise tax for cigarettes would go from $1.006 a pack to $2.01.

Senate Bill 1403 would provide annual funding to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act through the increases. The bill also would raise the federal tax on smokeless tobacco to create a "tax parity" between smokeless products and cigarettes, according to the report.

The 14 Democrats sponsoring the legislation are Tom Harken (D-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Whitehouse (RI), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Jack Reed (RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska).

Bill Godshall, executive director of SmokeFree Pennsylvania, said separately that S. 1403 would:

  • Double cigarette, RYO and small cigar tax rate (from $1.0066 to $2.01 per/pack).
  • Increase snuff tax rate by 1,774% (from $1.51 to $26.79 per lb., or from 94.4 cents to $1.675 per ounce).
  • Increase chewing tobacco tax rate by 2,130% (from 50.33 cents to $10.72 per pound).
  • Tax dissolvables, snus and other portioned smokeless products at 10 cents per piece).
  • Tax e-cigarettes and e-liquid the same estimated "per use" rate as far more hazardous tobacco cigarettes.
  • Increase pipe tobacco tax rate by 1,750% (from $2.8311 to $49.55 per pound, or to $2.01 per pack if used as RYO).
  • Adjust all tobacco tax rates annually for inflation.
  • Appropriate increased levels of funding annually to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

John Dinan, an associate professor of political science at Wake Forest University, told the Journal he doesn't expect the Senate bill, or a House version, to move forward this year. "Tax increases are likely to face a particularly uphill battle," he said.

Click here for the full text of S. 1403.

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