Today, Representative Jenifer Loon and Senator Julie Rosen introduced the Cigarette Uniformity Act (HF 0743, SF 0493) to close the loophole that has allowed so-called â€œlittle cigarsâ€ to skirt the regulations placed on cigarettes.
Little cigars look and smoke like regular cigarettes but because they have tobacco in the rolling paper, they are misclassified in law as an â€œother tobacco productâ€ and are not regulated as cigarettes. They are every bit as dangerous as cigarettes – and every bit as addictive. Because of the loophole, little cigars have long avoided proper taxation and regulation.Â
This bill will ensure proper compliance with state law and help keep cheap tobacco products out of the hands of kids. The low price point of little cigars combined with kid-friendly flavors such as strawberry, chocolate and grape make little cigars attractive to kids. In Minnesota, a pack of little cigars costs under $2 compared to regular cigarettes, which average about $5.50 per pack. Â Â
The Cigarette Uniformity Act broadens the statutory definition of cigarettes to include little cigars. This change means little cigars:
- will be subject to the same taxes and fees as cigarettes,
- will be required to have Department of Revenue tax stamps to ensure tax compliance and reduce tax evasion, and
- will be subject to the stateâ€™s minimum price law.
The Star Tribune recently published a compelling editorial on little cigars that sums it up perfectly.
â€œLittle cigarsâ€ are no little matter. And cheap tobacco is not good for any community. We need to ensure little cigars are classified as what they really are â€“ cheap cigarettes. Please stay tuned for more information on this bill and be prepared to take action.