In many states, cigars are the target of legislators looking to generate more tax dollars or wanting to appear tough on tobacco, and this is what makes them an easy target. They generate less revenue than cigarettes and are mostly used by men. This means fewer groups of people would pay attention to what’s going with the price, availability, and freedom to smoke them. Cigarettes, on the other hand, are used by both men and women along with more diversity. Mess with cigarettes and you have a fight on your hands. Cigars, however, are easy pickings for tax increases and bans.
Most of the growth in cigar sales is driven by people buying single cigars. This represents a group of people with less disposable income. There are also the people who don’t have the interest, training, time, or wherewithal to mount battles to prevent politicians from raising the taxes on or banning the use of cigars. It seems like the disinterest in a legal battle by many cigar smokers has emboldened the tax or ban from politicians. Each year they seem to increase the tax on cigars and decrease the number of establishments and other locations where cigars can be smoked.
While most states have increased the tax on cigars and prohibiting their use in a growing number of establishment and social situations, New York and Connecticut have taken it to another level. Those states have imposed some of the largest taxes on cigars in the country. They’ve also proposed and enacted laws restricting or banning smoking of cigars. It’s not so surprising to hear that cigar sales in those states have declined by as much as 15%. In January of 2008, the cap on the cigar taxes were eliminated; hence they’ve increased up to 20,000%.
Many politicians say increasing taxes on cigars plays a two-fold role. The money raised is used to pay for the cost of treating the medical problems of smokers. Plus, the high price will act as a deterrent, discouraging people from purchasing cigars. Some say prohibiting the smoking of cigars in a growing number of places is an effective way to protect people’s health, and banning cigars and other tobacco products would be even more effective.
But without the jobs and tax revenue tobacco generates, many lives and well-meaning programs would be negatively impacted. That makes raising taxes a more viable option than banning cigars completely. It’s basically the lesser of 2 evils at this point.