Maryland may snuff out its smoke shops

Maryland is considering a bill to raise its cigarette tax from $2 to $2.75 per pack, but legislators are worried that the price increase will cause teenagers to start smoking cigars instead. Luckily they’ve come up with an easy solution to the problem: Raise taxes on cigars too! Under the proposal, the tax on cigars will jump from 15% of the manufacturer’s price to an extremely punitive 90%. Combined with the statewide smoking ban, the new SCHIP taxes, and the recession, retailers are understandably fearing for their livelihoods. This could potentially defeat the revenue-raising purpose of the taxes. As a retailer friend of mine once said, “90% of nothing is nothing.”

Though no politician could get away with saying it, I’m not convinced that teenage smokers switching from cigarettes to cigars is something to be discouraged (assuming they are going to continue smoking something). Cigars aren’t inhaled directly and are less habit-forming,* and they could become a rewarding hobby into adulthood. If I were the parent of a teenager I would much rather see him smoking a few cigars per week than taking constant cigarette breaks throughout the day.

This is not the first anti-cigar proposal to come out of Maryland recently. Maryland cities and counties have been banning sales of low-cost, individual cigars to keep them out of reach of the poor and of teens who might strip out the tobacco and replace it with an even more illicit leaf.

*Update: To clarify, by “non-habit forming” I’m referring to their general usage, not to their chemical properties.

[Hat tip to the ever-vigilant Stogie Guys.]


3 thoughts on “Maryland may snuff out its smoke shops”

  1. The real absurdity here is the assumption lawmakers have made regarding the substitutability of cigars for cigarettes. Most cigarettes smokers would much rather smoke their favourite cigarette than some foul cigar (sorry Jacob). Additionally, I can’t imagine cigars have much cachet as far as teenagers are concerned.

  2. Jeez, I wonder if they’re considering snuffing out candy shops, Burger joints, soda machines, and bakeries – all places with products that are not so good for today’s youth.

    The law makers are braindead and quite out of touch with reality. This is just another classic example.

    – Zman

  3. Like everyone says about the State of Maryland. “If you can think it, we can tax it”. The state makes me sick. They can’t just leave things alone. What would happen if everyone in the state would quit smoking? The state would go bankrupt and then what would they tax? What makes me even madder is that we, as citizens, allow this stuff to happen. “We don’t have to allow this”… There are a select few in the state, like in Montgomery County, that have the clout to do something like this. As people that enjoy cigars, we need to stand up and say “NO MORE”.

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