Monday, September 28, 2009


My friend Tony and I play golf every couple of months, give or take. I quit smoking years ago, and the only time I'll have a cigarette is after a round with him, a smoking purist who rolls his own. This past Saturday, we finished our game late in the afternoon. I lit up, took my first heavenly drag, and then the cell phone rang. It was a TV reporter calling about the new law raising taxes on tobacco products other than cigarettes, slated to go into effect on September 30th.

Nice timing.

The reporter was confused by the language of the bill, so not being near a computer I asked her to read me the significant section. It didn't make sense to me either. As we talked, I could see Tony in the corner of my eye starting to fume, smoke coming out of his ears. He knew exactly what the increase was about, and he was not happy.

I needed help to answer the reporter's question, so I was able to contact Brian (mahalo!) on Speaker's staff to look up the bill and explain it to me so that I could respond to the reporter prior to the 6 pm newscast.

In a lame attempt to appease my friend, I said, "well, this increase is for tobacco products other than cigarettes." But, of course, he rolls his cigarettes with loose tobacco so the increase does indeed apply to his purchases. I sympathized, as I asked to bum another. In a couple months, he may not be so generous.

In a nutshell, starting Wednesday, September 30 2009, the tobacco tax on tobacco products, other than cigarettes and cigars, will rise from 40% to 70% of the wholesale price. For cigars, the tax will rise from 40% to 50% of the wholesale price. And little cigars will now be classified in the same category as cigarettes.

A copy of the bill and bill history is here.

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