Tax hike on small cigars among host of new Maryland laws

Now everybody in Pigtown know the recent news that taxes on cigarillos will be increased more than four-fold, to 70 cents on the dollar.

Health advocates intend to take candy-flavored small cigars out of young people.

Little Cigars

Three cigarillos

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Maryland’s health secretary, listed the varieties he found especially designed for teenagers. Wild apple and pineapple is in that list.

The new state law had to come into force on July 1.

Jones-Rodwell, a supporter of the tax increase that will make Maryland’s rate the 10th-highest in the country, said that according to the way small cigars are marketed, it seems that they are intended to be sold to children.

The single cigarillos are among the biggest sellers at the St. Paul Food Market in Mount Vernon. The owners put them in a display and do not bother about this. The owners said that customers know the $1.10 cigars are cheaper here than at chain stores and that sell tobacco products only to people who are 18 years old or older.

“They tell me what to get,” said Ahmed, Tauqeer. “They say, ‘We need chocolate. We need vanilla.’ And then we order them.”

Tauqeer Ahmed, who runs the store with her wife, Sara, said that the small cigars were not so popular until the state’s cigarette tax was increased to $2 a pack.

Ahmed said added that no one wanted to buy cigarillos 4 or 6 years ago.

Peter H. Fisher of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said higher prices will be a reason for no smoking and start smoking.

A recent research led by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene showed that teens were more and more smoking the cheaper cigars. The rate of smoking teenagers decreased between 2000 and 2010, the research revealed, while cigar use raised by 11 %.

State officials consider that the higher tobacco taxes will get $5 million in the first year, then project the income will decrease.

Gene Ransom, CEO of MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society, said that they would stop collecting the tax because everyone quitted smoking.

Lawmakers said the General Assembly increased the tax of small cigars to mirror that of cigarettes. The wholesale tax on smokeless tobacco increased twofold to 30 %. The tax for premium cigars remained at 15 %, leading some in the cigarillos industry to charge the state of “economic discrimination.”

Bruce Bereano, lobbyist for the Maryland Association of Tobacco and Candy Wholesalers, said that people in urban areas have to pay 70 % when they can hardly afford it, and those in the $1,500 suits smoking the premium cigars, there is no hike at all.

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