The state of New York has the highest cigarette excise tax in the country at $4.35 a pack, while Missouri has the lowest at 17 cents. And the average rate for the country? It comes to a $1.46 per pack.
Congress increased the tax on cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco three years ago this past month. Now, there are indications that smokers are using pipe tobacco to roll their own cigarettes and cigars to avoid the costly taxes.
According to a recent article in USA Today, the Government Accountability Office states that the monthly sales of pipe tobacco has increased from 240,000 pounds in January 2009 to more than 3 million pounds in September of this past year.
What does this mean? From a monetary standpoint, the GAO reports that the federal government has lost as much as $1 billion in tax revenue because of users’ switch from cigarette to pipe tobacco and cigars. That number does not include what the states could have collected.
Contact discount tobacco shops to see if sales of pipe tobacco and cigars have increased in recent months. Ask if more smokers are buying the necessary equipment to roll their own cigarettes using pipe tobacco.
Find pipe and cigar smokers to get their feedback.
Set up a reader callout to ask readers if pipe tobacco and cigars should be taxed at the same rate of cigarettes.
Create a Web poll to ask readers how high does the price of cigarettes need to go before they quit smoking: 10 percent, 25 percent, 50 percent? Or is it similar to the cost of gasoline for some in that the price will not curb the usage?
Ask local politicians their thoughts on a tax increase in pipe tobacco and cigars to counter the switch from cigarettes.