With the majority of state legislatures now in session, bills to raise state cigarette taxes have been introduced in 17 states and legislation to raise the other tobacco products tax is being considered in 13 states.
Below is a brief summary of these tax increase proposals:
- California: $1.50 per pack of cigarettes.
- Connecticut: $.40 per pack of cigarettes and 22.5% on other tobacco products (OTP).
- Hawaii: $1.20 per pack of cigarettes; $3.20 per OTP item except cigars.
- Illinois: $.76 per pack of cigarettes with additional $.25 per pack of cigarettes as of March 1, 2012.
- Kentucky: $1.06 per pack of cigarettes and 12.5% on OTP.
- Maine: $1.50 per pack of cigarettes.
- Maryland: $1.00 per pack of cigarettes and 80% on OTP.
- Mississippi: $.50 per pack of cigarettes and 7.5% on OTP.
- Missouri: $.16 per pack of cigarettes.
- Nebraska: $1.35 per pack of cigarettes and 45% on OTP.
- North Dakota: $.41 per pack of cigarettes has been defeated.
- New Mexico: 32% on OTP with minimum of $1.66 per OTP item.
- New York: $1.65 per pack of cigarettes.
- Oregon: $1.00 per pack of cigarettes and 55.25% on OTP.
- Texas: $.12 per pack of cigarettes.
- Vermont: $1.00 per pack of cigarettes and $1.00 per pack of little cigars.
- Virginia: $1.15 per pack of cigarettes and 40% on OTP.
- West Virginia: $1.00 per pack of cigarettes and 43% on OTP.
In contrast to these proposed tax increases, there are three states with bills pending that would reduce state cigarette tax rates. These include two bills in New Hampshire that would decrease the state’s cigarette tax rate by $.10 per pack and $.98 per pack, respectively, a proposal in New Jersey to scale back the state cigarette rate by $.30 per pack, and a bill in Rhode Island would reduce the state cigarette rate by $1.00 per pack.
On February 16th, NATO representatives met for a second time with the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products staff to continue discussions on mutual cooperation and communication regarding tobacco regulatory matters.
During the meeting, NATO representatives offered to utilize the Tobacco E-News as a communication tool to educate NATO members about FDA proposed guidance on regulations, proposed rules, and final regulations. With the Tobacco E-News circulation to manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, the bulletin is an effective means to provide news about tobacco regulations.
The FDA staff was also asked if the agency had a time frame to finalize the guidance on retail clerk training programs. In response, the FDA staff indicated that public comments received about the proposed clerk training program elements were still being reviewed and that the final guidance document would be issued when the review process is completed.
On February 25, 2011, Lorillard Tobacco Company and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for declaratory and injunctive relief.
Regarding the declaratory relief, Lorillard Tobacco Company and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company are requesting the federal district court to declare that the appointment of three of the members of the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee and three of the members of a subcommittee was arbitrary and violated federal law because these members have financial conflicts of interest since they have been employed in the past and continue to be employed as expert witnesses in litigation to testify against tobacco product manufacturers. Moreover, several of these committee members serve as consultants to manufacturers of nicotine-replacement-therapy products (e.g., nicotine patches, nicotine gum) and smoking-cessation products that raises questions about or demonstrates their lack of impartiality.
Regarding injunctive relief, Lorillard Tobacco Company and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company are requesting the federal district court to order that the Department of Health and Human Services and the FDA not be allowed to receive or rely in any way on a report on menthol in cigarettes from the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.