Tobacco taxes are a hot topic in the Oregon legislature this session, with five separate bills currently seeking increases to various aspects of the state’s tobacco taxes, and two of those looking to raise the tax on premium cigars.

HB 2037, introduced by Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, would increase the tax on cigars and other tobacco products from 65 to 81.25 percent of the wholesale price, while increasing the tax cap on cigars from 50 cents to 62.5 cents per cigar. For a cigar that has an MSRP of $9.50, the pre-sales tax price at the register would go from $10.50 to $10.75, by halfwheel estimates. The bill also seeks to increase the tax on little cigars and cigarettes from $1.32 to $2.82 per pack.

It has been assigned to the House Committee On Revenue.

The more damaging of the proposals, HB 2024, would not only increase the tobacco purchasing age to 21, but would remove the 50 cent tax cap on cigars, leaving them subject to the state’s current tax rate of 65 percent of the wholesale price. That means that a cigar with an MSRP of $9.50 would jump from $10.50 to $15.20 by halfwheel estimates, again before sales taxes are added.

The bill is the creation of Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, and Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham. It also seeks to increase the tax on little cigars and cigarettes from $1.32 to $2.92 per pack, as well as impose a tax on inhalant-form nicotine, changes that would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018 if passed.

It has been assigned to the House Committee On Health Care.

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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, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.