Tobacco Tax Equity has been a top priority by anti-tobacco activists seeking to price informed adult consumers out of the market. Under the false premise that all tobacco products are interchangeable and equally hazardous to health, it would have fundamentally changed the current risk-based tax formula. The new formula would equate all tobacco products to cigarettes, then double the tax! The result would be up to 1,000% increase in federal excise tax for cigars and 1,650% increase in federal excise tax for pipe tobacco.
“The anti-tobacco groups fed Congress a lot of half-truths, and frankly there are some powerful officials that enabled it,” said Joshua Habursky, Head of Government Affairs at PCA. “Initially, very little consideration was given for how this would affect lower income and minority populations, small businesses, unemployment, foreign relations, immigration, or even public health for that matter. A lot of Congressmen weren’t happy about the position they were put in.”
PCA began lobbying against Tobacco Tax Equity in February of this year, when Senator Durbin (D-IL) proposed it as a means to pay for maternal health programs. The threat evolved into a stand-alone bill in March before being proposed as a means to pay-for the Build Back Better Act. The effort has included over 100 meetings in Washington D.C. and collaboration with allied associations in the States. PCA also developed a grassroots engagement platform that gave voice to over 25,000 cigar and pipe enthusiasts contacting Capitol Hill. In October, PCA hosted a Global Policy Summit with U.S. Senators, foreign dignitaries, and international industry leaders. The discussion led to engagement with the White House on the deeper economic effects that the policy would have on our Central American allies and trade partners including the direct opposition of these provisions by the Minister of Trade & Industry for the Dominican Republic.
“This campaign proved how strong we are when the industry comes together as one family,” said Greg Zimmerman, President of the Premium Cigar Association. “I’m grateful for our retail members, manufacturers and the everyday consumers who participated in this campaign. It started with great lobbying here in D.C., but the strength of those messages resonated because Members of Congress and Senators realized that PCA represents real business owners, real employees and real voters.”
The House of Representatives will soon begin debate on this latest version of the Build Back Better Act, with the Senate to follow suit.
“At the end of the day, Tobacco Tax Equity isn’t about raising money for social programs; it’s about an elite interest group that wants to destroy our industry.” said Scott Pearce, Executive Director of the Premium Cigar Association. “If you look at how these groups are funded, it’s clear they still wield a lot of political power. This could circle back around. So we won’t be letting up.”
PCA is still encouraging it’s members and their employees and customers to take action on our updated alert to stave off that threat of the anti-tobacco groups pushing these harmful provisions back into the Build Back Better agenda.
Take Action Now at https://cigaraction.org/oppose-premium-tobacco-tax-increase/