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Little Cigar Consumption on the Rise, While Cigarette Use Declines
Date:2/4/2009

SCHIP Law Will Tax Little Cigars at Cigarette Equivalent for First Time

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New data from the Maxwell Report indicates a dramatic increase in the use of cigarillos and little cigars over the past decade, a troubling trend given the popularity of these products with young adults (ages 18-25) and the African American community. According to the data, over a 10-year period from 1997-2007, little cigar consumption increased 240 percent, while cigarillos increased by almost 150 percent. Meanwhile, cigarette consumption has declined by about 25 percent over the same 10 year period.

"These numbers are extremely concerning. Little cigars and cigarillos are obviously a serious public health threat and there is evidence that they are popular among young adults and minorities," said Dr. Cheryl G. Healton, President and CEO of American Legacy Foundation. "While much effort has been focused over the past decade on increasing awareness about cigarettes and the dangers of smoking, cigar products have emerged as a profitable product while remaining taxed at a much lower rate and consumers are taking the bait," she added. Low prices, candy flavors, marketing promoting affluence and hip hop culture as well as the fact that these products can be sold individually as "loosies" may be factors that make little cigars so popular among youth and young adults. Healton points out that today's announcement of a federal tax increase on these emerging products may help to curb the consumption.

Under the newly signed State Children's Health Insurance Plan law (SCHIP) signed by President Obama [today], taxes will increase not only on cigarettes - a major victory for public health advocates - but on cigar products as well. Little cigars will now be taxed at $1.01 per pack, and cigarillos and large cigars will have an increase from $.05 to $.40.

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SOURCE American Legacy Foundation
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