A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that seeks to achieve tax parity among all tobacco products, which would mean an increase in the tax rate on premium cigars should it pass.

S. 1837, known as the Tobacco Tax Equity Act of 2017, was introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), with the support of five co-sponsors: Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.).

The bill would set the federal tax rate for all tobacco products at the same rate as that of cigarettes, which is $50.33 per thousand. Currently, cigars are taxed at a rate of 52.75% of the wholesale price, though it is capped at 40.26 cents per cigar.

Under Sen. Durbin’s proposal the rate would change to $24.78 per pound, with a minimum tax of 5.033 cents per cigar.

Given that the proposal calls for a per pound rate, the net effect on each cigar would vary as cigars come in a range of weights. Using 0.7 oz as an example weight of a cigar, that would mean the tax would be approximately $1.08 per cigar, more than double the current rate. Larger, heavier cigars would be hit harder than smaller, lighter cigars.

A comparison of the current and proposed tobacco tax rates can be found here, while the full text of the legislation is available here.

S. 1837 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Finance, though no action has been scheduled yet.

Durbin introduced a similar bill in 2015, though it did not advance out of the Senate Committee on Finance.


Featured image by Scrumshus (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.