A bill to increase the state tobacco tax has been pre-filed into the New Mexico Senate by Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, who will once again try to make tobacco significantly more expensive.

Senate Bill 25 seeks a $1.50 increase on the cigarette tax, which would take it from $1.66 to $3.16 per 20-count pack. It also seeks a corresponding increase on other tobacco products, such as cigars, smokeless tobacco, and electronic cigarettes; the bill once again calls for an increase on the tax from 25 to 76 percent of the wholesale price.

By halfwheel estimates, a cigar that has an MSRP of $9.50 would jump from $11.88 to $16.72 before any additional sales taxes are added. It would catapult New Mexico to the top of the list of states with high tobacco taxes, as if the bill passes the state would have the second highest uncapped cigar tax in the country behind Utah, which taxes tobacco products other than cigarettes at a rate of 86 percent of the wholesale price.

Morales introduced a similar bill last year, which also sought to increase the taxes on cigars and other tobacco products from 25 to 76 percent of the wholesale price. That bill was defeated by the New Mexico House Taxation and Revenue Committee.

The New Mexico Legislature will open its 2018 session on January 16.

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 MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.