An initiative seeking to increase tobacco taxes in Montana in order to fund Medicaid has been defeated by voters.

I-185 sought to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $2 to $3.70, while also increasing the tax rate on tobacco products such as premium cigars by 33 percent to 83 percent of the wholesale price, as well as implementing that tax rate on e-cigarettes and vaping products.

In the case of a cigar with a MSRP of $9.50, under the state’s current tax rate of 50 percent of the whole sale price, it costs $14.25 at the register before any additional sales taxes are added. Had I-185 passed, that cost would have gone up to $17.39, by halfwheel estimates.

Additionally, taxes on moist snuff would have increased to the greater of 83% of wholesale or $3.70 per 1.2 ounces.

The bill would have eliminated the sunset date for expanded Medicaid services for certain low-income adults, which is currently scheduled to end on June 30, 2019. It would have also dedicated a percentage of these increased tax revenues for certain health-related programs, including some of the costs for Montana’s current Medicaid program. Additionally, it would have helped fund veterans’ services, smoking prevention and cessation programs and long-term care services for seniors and people with disabilities.

As of Thursday afternoon, the initiative had been defeated with 53 percent of voters opposing it.

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 the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.