Increase On ‘Little Cigars’ In GOP Assembly Tax Plan

Tobacco Product Looks Like A Cigarette But Taxed Like A Cigar

Greg Jordan (CC-BY-NC-ND)

An Assembly Republican plan to revamp Wisconsin’s tax code includes a provision that would increase taxes on so-called “little cigars.”

They’re called little cigars, but Sara Sahli, with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, said they’re really cigarettes in disguise. The only difference is the brown wrapping — and a big difference in price.

“You can get a pack of these little cigars for under 2 bucks,” she said. “We’re looking at a tax of 78 cents on average per pack with these, compared to cigarettes which are around $7.43 a pack or $2.52 in taxes.”

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Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, has included little cigars in a GOP tax and transportation package. If approved, the tax increase would bring in almost $340,00 the first year and $450,000 the second year.

In the past two state budgets, the American Cancer Society has tried to convince lawmakers to close what they call a tax loophole.

“We don’t consider this a new tax. We consider that we are closing a loophole that these products are taking advantage of,” Sahli said. “When you look at these products and see them side by side next to an actual traditional cigarette, it’s pretty obvious that’s what they are. The only difference is that they’re wrapped in brown paper.”

Gov. Scott Walker’s office did not respond to a request for comment.