A state lawmaker from Des Moines says he wants to close a loophole that allows new filtered cigars to get around the state’s higher tobacco taxes. Some manufacturers have increased the weight of their small cigars, known as cigarillos, by adding less filler and more tobacco, pushing them into the low-tax category of large cigars.
State Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, says the new cigarillos should be taxed like cigarettes. McCoy says they first need to determine how many manufacturers are falling under this loophole. The new filtered cigars can cost as little as a dollar and a quarter a pack including tax, while a pack of cigarettes can cost more than five dollars.
McCoy says he’s observed young people purchasing the low-cost smokes a pack at a time in convenience stores. McCoy says if someone couldn’t afford a whole pack of Marlboro Lights at $5.75 or $6.00 a pack you can guy cigarillo for under a dollar and still have the same nicotine delivered to your system.
McCoy predicts it won’t be a hard fight to close the loophole and tax the new cigars like cigarettes. McCoy also wants lawmakers to look at whether higher cigarette taxes have pushed up sales of loose tobacco as smokers avoid taxes by rolling their own.