Puff, just like that, cigar tax break is gone
ALBANY - If you've been puffing lower-taxed "little cigars" to escape the high taxes on cigarettes, your savings are about to go up in smoke.
As part of the new state budget, the little cigars - which look just like cigarettes, except they are wrapped in brown paper that is partly made from tobacco - will be classified as cigarettes in New York starting June 3.
That's the same day the state tax on a pack of cigarettes shoots up to $2.75, from $1.50 - making New York's levy on cigarettes the highest in the nation.
Gov. Paterson's budget office said the state tax now on a pack of little cigars amounts to only about 30 cents.
In New York City, the little cigars will also be subject to the city tax of $1.50 per pack on cigarettes. Until now, there was no city tax on the skinny stogies.
State budget officials estimate the tax will add $3.6 million a year in revenue.
Although a convenience store trade group claimed the higher taxes will drive up cigarette smuggling, anti-smoking advocates were gleeful.
"New York State is now the national public health leader in tobacco taxation," said Michael Seilback, policy director for the American Lung Association's state chapter