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Stogie News: Florida Senate Exempts Many Cigars from Massive Tobacco Tax Hike

20 Apr 2009

A $1-per-ounce tax on cigars has passed the Florida State Senate, but only after an amendment was added that would lessen the damage to the Sunshine State’s historic cigar industry. That amendment exempts cigars produced in Florida that are shipped out of state from the tax.

Padilla, Don Pepin Garcia, Tatuaje, J.C. Newman, and La Gloria Cubana are just some of Florida’s many cigar producers. Tampa’s Ybor City and Miami’s Little Havana have longstanding historic ties to the cigar industry, and both are the centers of cigar culture in the United States.

According to Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of the Florida-based Corona Cigar Company and board member for Cigar Rights of America, the hike will result in a 50 cent to $1 per cigar increase on the retail price of cigars, on top of a similar increase already in effect due to the recent federal SCHIP tobacco tax increase.

The amendment is considered a partial victory since it will exempt the estimated 85% of Florida-made premium cigars that are shipped out of state. However, after just being hit by the SCHIP tax, that percentage is little solace to Florida-based retailers who, if the Senate tax becomes law, will have raised the price of many cigars by over one dollar in just a few months.

Last week, cigar smokers took to the streets as part of protest organized by Cigar Rights of America. Over one hundred protesters showed up to demonstrate their opposition to tobacco taxes and warn of the devastating impact that more tax hikes could have. One Florida state senator predicted as many as 10,000 jobs would be affected by an increased cigar tax.

Fortunately for the Florida cigar industry, the tax is far from certain at this time as an alternative budget proposal from Florida House leadership doesn’t include any new tobacco taxes. Both state houses of government have large Republican majorities.

Republican Governor Charlie Crist has also made statements suggesting he would be opposed to tobacco tax hikes.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

4 Responses to “Stogie News: Florida Senate Exempts Many Cigars from Massive Tobacco Tax Hike”

  1. PJ Monday, April 20, 2009 at 5:37 am #

    So they will still put Florida B&M's out of business and lose tax revenue. Floridians will start mail ordering their cigars & pipe tobacco from out of state. We should have started protesting long before this.

  2. George E. Monday, April 20, 2009 at 6:33 am #

    At this point, Florida's House and Senate are not getting far in their budget negotiations, which are supposed to conclude by May 1. (Senate budget has tobacco tax, House does not.) Betting seems to be that there will be some cigarette tax hike, though probably not as high as the $1 a pack the Senate endorsed, and no tax on hand-rolled cigars, though there could be a tax imposed on machine made cigars. Of course, as with any legislature, no one can be really sure until the deed is done — and sometimes not even then.

  3. Patrick S Monday, April 20, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    It's worth reiterating that you've got Republicans in charge of the House, Senate and in the Governor's mansion, so any tax hike that comes will be fully on their watch.

    Unfortunately, tobacco taxes are bipartisan.

  4. dmjones Monday, April 20, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    Unfortunately, Patrick's right about that. IMO, that is because Republicans are more like Democrats were 40 or 50 years ago–of course, that makes today's Democrats more like the Soviets were 40 or 50 years ago!

    What we really need are some principled conservatives to stand up and say "Enough's enough!" The problem is not that we taxpayers are undertaxed. The fact is that we are overtaxed at every level: local to state to federal. We pay taxes 3 or 4 or 8 times on the money we make after we get done paying federal and state income taxes, federal and state tobacco taxes, federal and state gas taxes, state, county and city sales taxes, capital gains taxes, death taxes, etc. The real problem is that the various government bodies can't stay within the limits of the tax money they collect.

    It's time to say "No New Taxes"…of any kind…on any item…on any class of people…for any reason. They have plenty already!