Assemblywoman Lifton: Little Cigars Should Be Subject To Same Taxation as Cigarettes

May 5, 2009

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WF-Tompkins/Cortland) has authored and introduced a bill to change the tobacco law so that “little cigars” are subject to the same taxation as cigarettes – a measure that would reduce consumption levels, especially among children (A.8052).

Lifton said New York State currently imposes a $2.75 excise tax per pack of cigarettes, but the state excise tax on little cigars is 46 percent of the wholesale price, at an average of $1.71 per pack. Raising the tax on little cigars by nearly $1.00 would help increase revenue for the state.

Little cigars or cigarillos are inexpensive compared to cigarettes and kids are more likely to buy them, especially in today’s tough economy. Taxing them at the higher cigarette rate will make them less affordable.

“Given the current wholesale price for little cigars, imposing a $2.75 excise tax – the same as for cigarettes – would substantially increase state revenue and help curb the use of little cigars by young people,” Lifton said. “This bill makes it clear that our state will do everything it can to curb tobacco use and raise revenue to fight its use among kids.”

Lifton said equalizing the tax rate serves important public health goals by increasing the retail price of tobacco products.

“We must continue to fight the incidence of cancer rates in our state, and that starts with preventing tobacco use among underage teens,” Lifton said. “This is common-sense legislation and I urge my colleagues to move it forward.”