Tobacco tax hike would break Biden’s promise, business group says

By: - August 26, 2021 3:50 pm

“Consumer goods” and visitor. (Photo: Hugh Jackson)

The reconciliation bill being considered by Congress is often described as sweeping legislation that will slow and help mitigate the impacts of climate change, expand health care coverage, and extend monthly payments to families, lifting millions of children out of poverty.

It also promises to transform social services and programs in the U.S. to a degree not seen since the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which brought us Social Security, or the Great Society of Lyndon Baines Johnson, which brought us Medicare and Medicaid.

Yeah, but it’ll raise the tobacco tax, says the Nevada Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association.

And that means President Joe Biden will be breaking his campaign promise not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year, the business group said in statement Thursday.

The group urged Nevada members of Congress “to oppose any federal excise tax increase on tobacco products from being included in the upcoming budget reconciliation package.” 

The current federal excise tax on a pack of cigarettes is $1.01. Legislation sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and eight other Democratic senators (none from Nevada) would double it, and that’s the provision – or some version of it – that could end up in the reconciliation bill.

The gas station/convenience store group has also launched a companion video advertisement, which urges people to call their members of Congress and tell them “to keep the Biden promise.”

Unlike the press release, however, the TV ad makes no reference to tobacco products, instead warning only of higher taxes on “consumer goods.”

In addition to federal taxes, smokers also pay state taxes. The national state average is $1.91 a pack, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and in Nevada it’s $1.80 a pack. The District of Columbia, has the highest tobacco excise tax, at $4.94, followed by New York and Connecticut, both at $4.35. Missouri has the smallest state tobacco excise tax, at 17 cents a pack.

Nevada, like several other states, tacks on the normal sales tax rate as well, which is 8.375% in Clark County.

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Hugh Jackson
Hugh Jackson

Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.