Two Petitions Filed Seeking to Repeal Massachusetts’ Tobacco Tax

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A cigar shop owner in Massachusetts is leading the charge to repeal the state’s 40% tobacco tax via a pair of petitions that have been filed with the state attorney general’s office in hopes of getting on the 2016 ballot.

Geoffrey Yalenzenian of Brennan’s Smoke Shop, which has six locations in the state, has filed petitions 15-29 and 15-30, both of which are titled An Act to Eliminate Double Taxation on the Sale of Tobacco Products, though contain two sets of wording to achieve the same result.

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Both petitions, along with 33 others filed before Wednesday’s deadline, now go before Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to determine whether they are in line with requirements in the state constitution. If they do, the Attorney General will certify them and file them with the Secretary of State, and a minimum of 64,750 signatures will be required to be gathered and filed with local election officials by late November and then with the Secretary of State by the first Wednesday in December. Should that happen, it will be sent to the legislature in January 2016 where it will begin that process, while more signatures can be gathered through early July in an attempt to get them on the Nov. 2016 state election ballot should the legislature not enact the proposal by early May 2016.

An earlier version of this story reported Massachusetts’ tobacco tax rate as 30% when it is indeed 40%. We regret the error.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

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.

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